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PARl.lA^^ENT ST.,  















Page 145 

,. ■!! 

„ 174 

.. "94 



CHAPTER V Pc^g^ 206 

VI V 219 

VII „ 227 

VIII ,,256 

IX ,, 278 






X Page 288 




XI . 


XIV . 
XV . 

XVI . 




To M. l£ON say. 

My dear Master, 

It is my wish to dedicate this 
book to you. Those of our friends who are 
aware how much I am indebted to you 
and what a great affection I have for you, 
will consider this token of gratitude on my 
part as perfectly natural ; while maliciously 
inclined people will, perhaps, find it piquant 
that I should have implicated in colonial 
politics not only J.-B. Say, who detested them, 
but his grandson as well, who— at least pub- 
licly — has as yet evinced no interest in them. 
But you will detect in my proceeding, a 
motive other than artifice, or even gratitude. 
In it, you will recognise the anxious appeal 


of the disciple who seeks the patronage of 
the Scholar (rather than that of the States- 
man) and desires with his co-operation to 
make a science of colonial politics, if this 
be possible. 

I made my debut in colonial affairs under 
the guidance of an admirable intellect. Safe 
judgment, rapid decision, scientific mind, 
sound common-sense — such were the rare 
gifts, so seldom combined, which M. Paul 
Bert united in one and the same person. 

I need not recapitulate what he accom- 
plished in so few short months. His work 
is in itself a sufficient commendation. In 
the course of his brief career and on the 
morrow of his demise he may have had de- 
tractors ; at the present day he has none but 
•/ He was a strong advocate of a colonial 
I policy. But his idea of a colonial policy was 

"^^ not so much an indefinite territorial exten- 

sion as a rational plan of administration. 
After conquest, he desired organisation. 

This organisation he conceived and carried 
out on a scientific basis. He considered it 
essential for colonial government, that prin- 
ciples should first be established, and a system 
of procedure adopted. 

I have ever since been imbued with these 
views, at once so simple and so wise : for 
the future they are my creed. But though 


I have met with people who shared these 
views, few have dared to defend them, and 
fewer still have desired to put them into 

No sooner is the question of colonies broach- 
ed than we desert those principles, which 
form the basis of our policy, we lack syste- 
matic action, albeit imperious logic has long 
been our guide. We live from day to day; 
we wander hap-hazard. 

Empiricism is our ruler and guide; and 
still more so, routine. So that, as a result 
of mere routine, we have even imported into 
our transmarine possessions the system of 
home government, and given to colonies dif- 
fering very essentially a regime which differs / 
in little. 

And yet each of these colonies has wants 
of which the others are ignorant, and all of 
them have wants which are ignored by the 
mother country. 

Take, for instance, the population of a 
colony, — a population of colonists and abo- 

What are colonists? They are natives 
of a metropolis which with its austere regime 
has offered but meagre chances of success, 
and who have come to the colonies in the 
hope of increasing their chances. Will these 
chances, pray, be increased, if the admini- 
strative system, the mania for making regu- 


lations, and the zeal for the interests 
of the public treasury to be found in 
the mother country are imported into the 
colonies ? 

And what are aborigines? They are pri- 
mitive and suspicious beings who frequently 
dread even the most justifiable of our inno- 
vations, and are rarely in a position to pro- 
fit by them. Are we going to transfer our 
European laws and regulations without any 
modification to peoples such as these? 

It is clear, then, that the mother country 
cannot administer and govern her colonies 
in accordance with her own system, by her 
own laws, and her European officials. She 
must initiate other methods, frame other laws, 
train up other officials. 

Doubtless the parent has her rights which 
she cannot compromise — still less sacrifice — 
for the sole benefit of her oflFspring. Even 
the most ambitious nation would not colo- 
nise at a loss for any length of time. And 
it seems as though colonisation would be at 
a loss were the interests of the colonists 
opposed to those of the mother country. 

But such is not the case ; their interests, 
far from being opposed, are identical; and 
all the rights and interests of the metropo- 
lis will be safe-guarded, if care be taken to 
safe-guard first of all the rights and interests 
of the colonists. 



It has long been supposed that the inte- 
rests of the mother country are at variance 
with those of the colonists. It was thought 
that the former might be impoverished by 
the very causes which render the latter pros- 
perous : that, for instance, the colonists grow 
rich on the sale of foreign products to the 
natives. The mother country instead of cal- 
culating what these colonists — her sons — 
have gained, calculates what her own manu- 
facturers have failed to gain, and pretends 
that what they have failed to gain is an 
actual loss to her. This calculation is inaccu- 
rate. Whatever the colonists have gained is 
a gain to their native land. 

The interest of the parent, then, lies in 
not haggling with her children over such 
matters as may be conducive to their pros- 
perity ; that is to say, a certain liberty of 
action should be accorded them, laws suited 
to the average of the population ; they should 
have capable and honest officials, and the 
material means of attaining wealth. 

All these are more uncommon than might 
be supposed. 

Look at the laws of our colonies : they 
are laws which have been almost entirely 
modelled on the Home Legislature. They 
consist partly of the Civil Code, the Code 
of Procedure, the Commercial Code, the 
Penal Code — and a host of our admini- 



strative laws. In Algeria, in Indo-China, in 
Guiana, in Reunion, we find almost every- 
where the same laws, and the same ad- 
ministration. * 

And the officials? what are they, and i 

whence do they come ? In every ten of our 
colonial officials there is hardly one who 
may be safely regarded as trustworthy. 
How will the remaining nine set about the 
work of governing ? The answer is on every 
one's lips. They will bring with them that 
passion for uniformity, that mania for routine, 
that love for making regulations and of 
form, that dread of initiative, and of the 
responsibilities which crush the mother ^^ 

country as well as the most vigorous of j 

our colonies. 

Consult the Annual Reports for the colo- 
nies. You will find there double and treble 
the number of officials that ought to be 
tolerated by even the most scribbling of admi- 
nistrations. Enormous sums are devoted to 
the maintenance of an oppressive staff, whilst 
a miserable allowance is made for the . only 
real objects of interest and usefulness. 

Examine the budgets: nine times out of .; 

ten the establishment charges are heavier 
than the cost of the Public Works them- 
selves. And yet Public Works represent the 
future welfare of the colonies; they are a 
safety-valve and a means of subsistence for 


to-day, a triumph for to-morrow. Nay, more ; 
they even constitute in the eyes of the na- 
tives the sole excuse for colonisation. For 
the natives care nothing for our laws ; they 
scorn our officials ; they dread our reforms. 
Perhaps more than a century may elapse 
before we shall score a victory for morals, 
at the expense of a host of imported vices. 
What, then, will the present — or may be the 
next — generation of the vanquished owe us, 
or for what will they have to thank us, if 
we deny them altogether, or make them but 
a niggardly concession of, ports, roads, hos- 
pitals, schools, — in a word, all the opportu- 
nities of progress? 

None of these do our colonies possess. 
And so almost all of them remain weak 
and inactive ; and, as a logical result, seeing 
them just as we have made them, we fear to 
abandon them to themselves. We deny them 
all initiative, and all liberty. We keep them 
continually in leading-strings. The more they 
increase in number and the longer we have 
them, the harder becomes our task and the 
less efficacious our supervision ; and we finally 
get to dislike them, because they weary and 
disquiet us. 

Oh! if Parliament to-morrow totally re- 
fused its sanction to the colonial budget; if 
the Government, tired of war, withdrew its 
forces ; if the Mother Country said to her 


daughters : '* I cry you quits of all I have 
spent on you; I will even make you a 
present of whatever you have that belongs 
to me. I will still undertake your defence 
from external foes. But for the future, not 
a penny of mine shall I give you and you 
will have to provide for yourselves.'' Oh! 
how sweet this severity would be^ how bene- 
ficent this cruelty! Would not this thun- 
derbolt be a stroke of good fortune! 

The first days, the first years would see 
many trials, many follies, much squandering, 
much ruin. But little by little orderly and 
energetic folk would gain the upper hand. 
And what wonders would be accomplished 
in a short space of time ! 

There is not a single colony possessed of 
sufficient security which could not obtain a 
loan at a reasonable rate of interest. It 
would provide itself with * plant,' would indeed 
construct harbours, railroads, aqueducts, hos- 
pitals, sanatoria; a spark of life would be 
infused into it. It would abolish the exces- 
sive import duty which now crushes it, and 
would allow ingress to all the products of 
the world at a moderate tariff. It would 
found a college, at which examinations for 
the recruiting of its officials would be held; 
of these there would be few, but they would 
be well paid. It would pack away back to 
Europe all that administrative apparatus, all 


that legislative trash which are now stifling 
its progress coupled with our codes, our 
procedure, and our ministerial officials. It 
would borrow from young and vigorous coun- 
tries laws to meet all its various needs. And 
under such a regime our colonies would one 
and all become prosperous. 

They would take their place in the world 
like new Frances, which would diffuse the 
influence of the old country in all latitudes. 
And if some hundreds of years hence one 
or other of them should grow sufficiently 
big to have no farther need of our gifts or 
our aid; if it should offer to repay us the 
outlay of past years and to send us back 
our soldiers, so as to be independent till, 
some day, its surplus population overflowed 
into some other new country, this would be 
still another blessing. 

For the great aim is not, to have colonies 
that are languishing, and a vast empire 
which is in jeopardy; but to have dissem- 
inated one's ideas through the world and to 
have left heirs of one's genius. England's 
most glorious colony is still — the United 

If our colonies freed from our paralysing 
tutelage were some day to become populous 
and wealthy ; if, at some future time, they rose 
from being colonies to the dignity of nations ; 
if these nations, daughters of our own, were 


to perpetuate our renown under other skies 
and in other ages, colonies would then seem 
to the world a marvellous means of rejuve- 
nescence, the most powerful — and only — foe 
of decay and death, and there is no nation, 
but would desire to found them, even at 
the cost of great sacrifices, to let them take 
wing when fully fledged, and so launch them 
on the path of productive liberty. 

Such, my dear master, are the ideas — 
somewhat premature, I admit — that I have 
wished to place under your patronage. 

Why particularly under yours? In the 
first place, for this reason: that up till now 
you are not a declared advocate of coloni- 
sation, and that your adhesion would be all 
the more valuable because the less antici- 
pated. And for yet another reason : Econo- 
mists appear to me with rare exceptions to 
have gone on the wrong tack in unreservedly 
condemning colonisation. It ought perhaps 
to have been condemned in J.-B. Say's time, 
but scarcely so in that of Stuart Mill, 
and certainly not in ours. Circumstances — 
political, economic, and financial — have 

And Political Economy, the science of 
observation, must first recognise facts. 

That the colonies are now badly managed, 
is no argument against them ; but rather 
against those that colonise ; it is but a fur- 

ther incentive to us to discover the rules 
of the art of colonisation. 

To launch Political Economy on so pro- 
ductive a course were, methinks, a task 
worthy of the grandson of J.-B. Say, 

Ever affectionately Yours, 

Joseph Chailley-Bert. 
March, i8q2. 






Object of these studies — French Colonial Policy — 
Reconstitution of our Territory — Reform of otir 
Administration — Necessity of consulting the ex- 
perience of our rivals — Limit of the profit to be 
derived therefrom — the British at hong-kong — 


When we consider what are the elements 
indispensable to the prosperity of colonies, 
we shall find that they are three in number, 
namely : good colonists, good laws, and good 
administrators. A good colonist is a mar- 
ried, or a marriageable man, who is robust 
and healthy, full of energy and enterprise, 
gifted with patience, and possessed of some 
capital. Good laws are laws which are un- 
pretentious, liberal in their spirit, pliant in 


their wording, not overloaded with regula- 
tions, which do not try to provide for every 
emergency and which tend neither to hamper 
the action of the colonists nor to restrict 
the responsibility of their rulers. Lastly, 
good administrators are such as have broad- 
minded ideas and aim high ; are gifted with 
a comprehensive intelligence and right judg- 
ment; are jealous of nothing but the wel- 
fare of both settlers and the colony, and 
interpret the laws (also, if need be, amplify- 
ing them), in such a manner as to render 
them a power, and not a constraint, to the 

I doubt if this ideal — good colonists, good 
laws, good administrators— is anywhere to 
be met with ; I am sure that it is not to be 
met with in the French colonies. Our co- 
lonists, for the most part bachelors, are in 
many respects inferior to the average popu- 
lation of the mother country. Our legisla- 
tion, far too voluminous and changeable, is 
nevertheless either antiquated or rigid to 
excess. Our administrators, in spite of what 
is undertaken by the central administration, 
are too numerous ; recruited at random, pro- 
moted by caprice, they are too often wanting 
in competence and responsibility. Hence we 
lack at once all those elements previously 
declared indispensable. And yet France has 
a superfluity of such elements at home, and 


at one time had them in her colonies. 

We know too little of her colonial policy 
under the former regime; it has been preju- 
diced by her European policy. This colonial 
policy has had one cardinal defect; it has 
lacked the spirit of continuity. But, so far 
as it concerns us here, it has from its very 
origin and throughout a period of two cen- 
turies, shown a wisdom in the conception 
of its plans, and an ingenuity in their exe- 
cution, never to be surpassed. 

It is to the colonial methods adopted un- 
der the old form of government that France 
owed so many magnificent possessions, which, 
even in the i8th century, made it doubt- 
ful which of the two, she or England, would 
be the great colonising nation. Unfortunately, 
this marvellous extent of territory, these in- 
valuable colonists ; this wisdom which in spite 
of all was clearly revealed in the King's 
Councils; such a wealth of property so 
dearly bought and so slowly acquired — of 
all this nothing remains ours at the present 
time. Territory has crumbled to pieces and 
traditions have become obscured with the 
overthrow of the monarchy; finally all was 
lost in the great upheaval of the latter end 
of the century, and our departed splendour 
is only shown by the glory of rivals enriched 
by our spoils. 

At the present day, despite so many dis- 


asters, we have at length by twenty years 
of effort succeeded in reconstituting our 
colonial empire. But now that we wish to 
turn the same to profitable account, we 
search in vain for a tnodus operandi and for 
men to put it into execution. The severed 
chain of traditions cannot be re-united ; the 
examples of our forefathers, interrupted in 
their necessary evolution, are no longer a 
guide to us in our present difficulties ; and, 
in order to commence our education anew, 
we must take a lesson from foreign nations. 

There are many people to whom the ad- 
mission of our inferiority will appear a sacri- 
lege, just as the notion of raising ourselves 
from this position by means of study will 
appear ridiculous. It were folly to listen to 
them. "I lay equal blame," says Pascal, 
"on those who are intent on praising man, 
as on those who are intent on blaming, or 
amusing him ; I can only approve of those 
who seek knowledge with tears." 

However, if we decide to stud)', let us 
endeavour to conduct our studies carefully, 
and let us not exaggerate the profit which 
may be derived therefrom. Among foreign 
nations we shall not find laws, regulations 
or conduct which may be straightway imi- 
tated without any modification. There is no 
nation whose colonial policy is free from 
even gross mistakes. All countries without 


exception have proved themselves improvi- 
dent, ignorant, unjust ; all governments, care- 
less, indifferent, wanting in tact. England 
herself has, throughout her history, commit- 
ted monstrous errors. She possesses, how- 
ever, two good points, by which we may 
profit. One is an uninterrupted experience 
of three centuries from which we might after 
feeling our way gather certain rules of con- 
duct which at the present day can hardly be 
dispensed with, and the other, a well-founded 
mistrust of improvised methods, and an appre- 
ciation of the fact, the truth of which has 
been repeatedly proved, that in the conduct 
of colonial affairs nothing can supply the 
place of experience, or even of mere study. 

That is all, perhaps, that the first colonial 
power in the world can teach us. Little as 
it is, let us at least try to understand it 
aright — a task by no means so easy. 

Compared methods, usually so fruitful, are 
yet fraught with danger ; none more so, per- 
haps, than the compared study of colonial 
administration. Numerous and complex fac- 
tors have to be taken into account ; the 
power of the parent and the aptitude of her 
colonists; the climate and resources of the 
colony; the character and institutions of the 
aborigines. England's experience may pos- 
sibly be of no service to Spain; results ob- 
tained in Africa do not serve as a prece- 


dent for any course of action in Asia. If, 
then, we would model our policy from that 
of foreign nations, let us make a good choice 
of our masters. These masters will be the 
Dutch or the English. But the British-Aus- 
tralian colonists cannot teach us anything 
worth knowing for our Algeria or our Senegal, 
nor Americans, for Madagascar. If we wish 
to reap information from the British on mat- 
ters relating to Africa, let us go to the 
Cape, or to the African West Coast. If we 
wish to turn studies to good account for our 
Indo-Chinese possessions, — and that is our 
primary aim — Asia is the country we must 
study, in adjacent latitudes and under simi- 
lar conditions : for instance, at Hong-Kong, 
and in Burma. 

The history of Hong-Kong will afford us a 
further proof (if such were needed) of the 
— now-a-days commonplace — truism that, 
colonial enterprise requires an inexhaustible 
store of patience added to a large amount 
of obstinacy, and even occasionally a stub- 
born and naive denial of what is commonly 
called " evidence '' ; and that, according to 
the good old English proverb, ''where igno- 
rance is bliss, 't is folly to be wise.'' It 
will prove to us, moreover, how many mis- 
takes are made even in the best laid plans; 
how large a portion of man's success is due 
solely to good fortune; and that, perhaps. 


all human wisdom consists, not in trusting to 
fortune, but in always being in a position 
to profit by her favours. 

Burma, and India too, of which the former 
is but a province, will furnish us with other 

We might study Burma from more than 
one point of view. 

We might confine ourselves to British 
Burma, that is to say, the province of India 
so called prior to 1885; we might analyse 
the policy pursued there by the British 
towards the natives ; indicate their system 
of administration ; and determine what might 
appropriately be imitated, or avoided. This 
would be an instructive, but at the same 
time an incomplete task, seeing that British 
Burma, since 1885, ^^^ nearly doubled its 
area which now extends from the sea to 
the frontiers of China and Siam, and that 
all the interest appertaining to this enter- 
prise centres in the British relations with 
their subjects in name but incompletely con- 
quered, those of Upper Burma, and their 
problematical tributaries called by them Shans, 
and by us Laotians. 

We might also give a description of the 
Anglo-Burmese hostilities, of the wars of 
1824, 1852 and 1885, a^d of the dismem- 
berments which followed the first two, the 
total absorption resulting from the last. 


This would be, especially as regards the 
latest period, an interesting addition to the 
history of intentional provocation and invol- 
untary conquest, with the moral ready to 
hand of the ' Earthen and Iron pots.' 

Finally, we might describe the rivalries of 
France and England, rivals in Indo-China in 
the 1 9th century, as they were in India 
in the 1 8th. We could show how, more 
than 60 years ago England in self-defence 
seized a part of Burma; how France, follow- 
ing in her wake, coveted by turns Annam, 
Cambodia, and perhaps Burma itself; neglec- 
ted grand opportunities ; lost splendid advan- 
tages ; and allowed herself to be distanced 
in the race. So that out of this Indo-China, 
which seemed almost wholly within her grasp, 
she has still scarcely time to retain for her- 
self a legitimate share by acceding to a 
proposal to fix the boundaries of the respec- 
tive spheres of influence. This task would 
indeed be no less interesting, and for it a 
motto might be borrowed from an equally 
famous fable : that of ' The Hare and the 

But apart from the fact that all, or nearly 
all the above has already been done, ' this 

' Regarding the triple order of ideas indicated in the 
text, information may be gathered from the following 


is not the object of our research. We 
wish, in drawing a comparison between 
Burma which belongs to England and that 
portion of Indo-China which belongs to 
France, to find out what line of conduct 
the British have themselves adopted in their 
new possession, and how, in the midst of 
difficulties and in the face of wants which 
are almost identical in the two countries, 
they have succeeded, not in rendering it 
prosperous — for that too short a period has 
yet elapsed — but in preparing its pacification, 
its administrative organisation, and its econo- 
mic working. 

I. A narrative of the Mission sent by the Governor- 
General of India to the Court of Ava in i8$$, by 
Captain Henry Yule, i vol., 4to, London, 1858; a work 
replete with information regarding the geography of 
Upper Burma, and the history and constitution of the 
Kingdom of Ava; the author's reputation being world- 
wide, any encomium on our part would be superfluous. — 
2. The British Burma Gazetteer^ a publication issued 
by the Government of Lower Burma, and containing all 
requisite information regarding the history, geography, 
natural history and administrative organisation of that 
province, 2 vols., 8vo, Rangoon, 1880. — And 3. La 
Chute des Allompra ou la fin du royaume dAva. (The Down- 
fall of the Alompra, or the End of the Kingdom ofAva^) 
the purport of which is sufficiently indicated by the 
subsidiary title: "Extract from a work in the press, 
entitled La France et V Angleterre dans t Indo- Chine ^ 
I vol., 8vo, Paris, 1890; Challamel. 


BaarthoLmew .Zdia.^' 


The Island — The Harbour — The Town — The Panorama . 

Hong-Kong, universally renowned, orna- 
ment of the China Seas, wonder and joy of 
the Far-East, a place of rest and of refuge 
midway between Singapore and Shanghai, 
of which two places it forms the connecting 
link, is a diminutive island situated on the 
South-West coast of China in iii° 40' E. 
longitude (Paris) and 22'' N. latitude, just at 
the entrance to the Bay into which flows 
the river Canton. Facing it, 40 miles away, 
lies Macao, a Portuguese settlement. The 
two settlements stand erect like sentinels 
placed there by Europe to keep a watch 
over the Chinese colossus. There is, how- 
ever, this difference between the two that, 
whereas the one is feeble and inattentive 
and dates back 400 years, the other is 
vigorous and alert, and is hardly half a 
century old. 

It was in 1841, at the time of the Opium 


war, that Hong-Kong became British territory. 
The provisonal terms, however, drawn up 
between Captain Elliot R.N. and the Chinese 
Imperial Commissioner Keshin, merely granted 
the use of the island to Great Britain, and 
contained special reservations with regard to 
the high ground. In the definitive Treaty 
of Nankin, signed on the 29th August 1842, 
these reservations disappeared, and the island 
was ceded perpetually to her Britannic Majesty, 
and her heirs and successors. On the 5th 
April 1843, it was created a colony and was 
granted a Charter which we shall discuss in 
a subsequent chapter. In i860, at the close 
of the Anglo-French expedition, the British 
acquired, by the terms of the Treaty of 
Pekin (24th October), an additional portion 
of territory, namely, the Kowloon Peninsula, 
which projects from the mainland at a point 
almost opposite the centre of the island. 
It was at this period that the colony in its 
present form was constituted. 

The additional territory acquired by the 
Treaty of Pekin was an indispensable adjunct. 
To it must be attributed the vast extension 
of the trade — especially the maritime trade — 
of Hong-Kong, and from it the harbour 
derived its formation, convenience and secu- 

Hong-Kong without Kowloon had in fact 
two defects. 


K. " 

In the first place it was too near for 
safety to a country which made pirates w^el- 

The distance from the island to the mainland 
confronting it, does not at any point exceed 
six miles ; at certain points at the extreme 
end of the Kowloon Peninsula it is only two 
and a half miles, and at the Lyemoon Pass 
on the north-east, scarcely one mile. This 
being so, there is a continual crossing to and 
fro, for which even the most miserable 
apology for a craft suffices. Now the pro- 
vince of Quang-Tung is inhabited by a popu- 
lation of the worst description. Bandits, pirates, 
deserters, all sorts of vagabonds live there, 
on the watch for an easy prey or for profi- 
table opportunities. They penetrated into 
Hong-Kong, achieved their object, and found 
an immediate and sure refuge on regaining 
the opposite shore. 

The possession of Kowloon, where posts 
of observation could be established, tended 
in some measure to render — and, in fact, 
did render — these expeditions more difficult, 
as it afforded greater facilities for their 

Nor is this all. Hong-Kong is of small di- 
mensions : it has a length of ii miles, and 
a width of 2 to 5 miles ; the total area co- 
vering 29 square miles. Besides this, the 
whole neighbourhood, both island and main- 


land, is mountainous. The average height of 
the mountains is considerable, and here and 
there rise peaks which descend abruptly to 
the sea-shore. Victoria, the capital of the 
island, which at the present day has a popu- 
lation of 190,000, lies at the foot of the 
peak of that name which rises to a height 
of 1900 feet. The town developed at first — 
not without difficulty — along the sea-front ; 
the land was, as the English term it, re- 
claimed; quays were constructed, and quar- 
ters, both good and bad, were provided for 
the requirements of trade, and for the colon- 
ists. Then, as business increased, the space 
was found to be inadequate. Hereupon the 
inhabitants migrated, and built their nests 
on higher ground. Trade cannot, however, 
mount heights. It requires the immediate 
neighbourhood of a harbour, and flat ground ; 
so it extended to right and left till every 
available site being appropriated it was com- 
pelled to seek other quarters, the result 
being, that it overstepped the arm of the 
sea and occupied Kowloon. But even there 
the level ground available was not all that 
could be wished. However, what had been 
done on the island could be repeated there. 
The sea was in front, the mountain behind: 
the mountain was' cast into the sea, and on 
the solid foundation thus obtained, quays 
and docks were built, and even villas 


for those who could not live on the heights. 
Thus, composed of two sections success- 
ively constructed, the colony of Hong-Kong 
forms a whole of the highest order both as 
regards utility, and picturesque effect. Let 
us imagine the arc of a circle with its con- 
cave side turned towards the sea, having a 
span of about 4 kilometres parallel to the 
equator, and a rise of i\ kilometres. In 
the centre of this arc and to right and left 
of the centre lies the town of Victoria. All 
along the curve which an invariably calm 
sea washes, lie the quays with their landing- 
stages, and in the background leaning against 
the mountain and forming a dark mass, are 
the docks, warehouses, offices and hotels. 
On the west extends the Chinese village 
with its regular and monotonous appearance, 
loathsome odours, and deplorable sanitary 
condition. Still further off a few manufac- 
tories indicate growing industrial enterprise. 
On the east, before the extreme end of 
the arc is reached, there is a slight projection 
of the coast line, the right side of which 
forms a smaller bay inside the larger one : 
this is Causeway Bay, a natural harbour 
which has been additionally protected at 
great cost, and where hundreds and thou- 
sands of boats, junks, and sampans seek 
refuge from the constantly recurring typhoons. 
At the extreme end of the arc, the coast 


bends in a south-easterly direction, forming 
an angle of nearly 45° with the equator, and 
finally, 3 kilometres further on, approaches 
the mainland on the right, thus forming 
the narrow Lyemoon Pass. Here ends that 
portion of the island which faces the main- 
land: the remaining portion, which faces the 
open sea, though equally picturesque, is of 
less interest to us. 

On the opposite mainland, the coast takes 
similar but inverse shapes. From Lyemoon 
Pass it runs from south-east to north-west, 
parallel to the portion of the island which 
faces it, and also forms an angle of about 
45° with the equator. It continues thus, 
forming creeks and promontories, and then 
expands into a circular bay of great breadth 
and depth bounded on the west by the Kow- 
loon Peninsula just at that part of the island, 
on the opposite side of the sea, where ends 
the eastern extremity of the arc described 
above. The Kowloon Peninsula here detach- 
es itself from the mainland forming a pro- 
jection several miles in extent, the end of 
which points precisely towards the centre 
of the arc. 

Thus the harbour of Hong-Kong, enclosed 
by two concave strips of coast facing each 
other, protected from the force of the waves, 
on the east side by the narrowing headlands 
which form Lyemoon Pass, and on the west 


side by the projecting Kowloon Peninsula and 
in addition being of huge size and able to 
anchor within it the fleets of the whole world, 
would afford unequalled security, but for the 
fact that typhoons, in whose path it lies, 
neutralize to some extent its advantageous 

There are grander sights to be seen in 
the world, but few more picturesque and 
graceful than that of Hong-Kong: the en- 
trance to the harbour and the panoramic 
view from the mountain. 

Coming from east or west, you pass by 
islands, or rather rocks, which are grey and 
naked, and glitter in the sunshine. It is a 
desolate region : not a vestige of vegetation, 
not a trace of human life. The Portuguese 
have named this group of islands the Ladrones 
— a name which they well merit : for they 
have been for centuries, and still are, the 
resort of pirates and robbers. Gliding be- 
tween them, the vessel approaches to a point 
from which Hong-Kong is seen, at no great 
distance; a greyish mass, standing out in 
strong relief, though the neighbouring land 
can yet scarcely be distinguished. Little by 
little objects can be discerned : masses of 
verdure here and there on the peaks ; a pane 
of glass glittering on the summit of a pa- 
vilion amongst the trees. Suddenly the vessel 
makes a curve, and the narrow channel dis- 


closes a fleet of ships, junks and sampans ; 
the extended curve of quays; the regular 
line of buildings, and above them, rising on 
a succession of hill-slopes, the villas in tiers 
along the zigzags of the mountain roads. 

All is life : here cargo is being shipped, 
there unshipped ; the rattle of cranes is heard, 
followed by their sudden stoppages ; the 
steamers whistle shrilly ; the puffing and pan- 
ting steam-launches dart hither and thither, 
making numberless trips. These hardy little 
pieces of mechanism a few years ago managed 
to cling on to the French ship Saghalien 
which had been run into amidships and nearly 
cut in two, and towed her into dock. 

On reaching a given point just in the 
middle of the roadstead the order is given, 
and the anchor falls. The ship is immediately 
invaded : all around it, crowding along its 
sides, tossed on the choppy sea, suddenly 
rising and falling with the waves, without 
noise or apparent violence, but struggling 
and labouring to get as near the deck as 
possible is a crowd of Chinese manoeuvring 
their boats. The sight of them reminds one 
of Lilliputians climbing Gulliver's knees. They 
are come to proffer their services to row 
passengers and their luggage ashore. 

The shape of their boats is very queer. 
The stern is cut off square, while the prow 
rises abruptly to a narrow curved point. 


There are hardly any bulwarks, nothing indeed 
but a smooth and level deck, in the middle of 
which lies a great hole, covered over with 
an awning. This hole serves alike as kitchen, 
saloon and store-room, into which the pas- 
senger, sitting on the deck, for there is no 
other seat, lets fall his legs. Further aft, rises 
mast and sail, the latter generally being made 
out of patched-up remnants of very strong 
white silk, and on the opposite side hangs a 
lump of lead, which can be shifted at plea- 
sure, so as to counterbalance the action of the 
wind. This boat is also used as a dwelling. At 
Canton there are tens, at Shanghai hundreds, 
of thousands of families who have no other 
home. The father gets his living in the 
harbour, the children, according to their age, 
either help to sail the boat, or play about 
noiselessly; the mother stands on the stern 
and paddles, with her youngest baby on her 
back, wrapped in a cloth folded cross-wise. 
At nightfall the boat is anchored at some 
safe spot, such as Causeway Bay, the awnings 
are taken down and spread out to form beds, 
the little wooden or porcelain seats serve as 
pillows, and commending itself to Heavenly 
Protection the family goes to sleep. 

Here is the quay. No longer do boatmen 
assail you, but it is now the porters' turn. 
The hubbub, tumult and uproar are indes- 
cribable. In a twinkling your luggage is 


landed. Trunks, overcoat, wraps, opera- 
glasses, travelling-bag, everything has disap- 
peared; they have been seized and carried 
off. By v^hom, or whither, you know not. — 
Keep your eyes open or you won't see them 
again. — What is to be done? Their number 
is legion. — Then call a policeman. Though 
discreet, the police are obliging and energetic. 
A ** Cipaye^' whom the English persist in 
calling ^^ Sepoy ^' is near at hand; tall and 
upright, cleanlily attired and with a certain 
dignity, with black skin and black costume, 
and a red turban wound round and round his 
head, he still obtains over the natives undimi- 
nished prestige. At his approach the turmoil 
subsides; the baggage is got together again ; 
a gang of porters is organised, a leader ap- 
pointed, and you have before you a responsible 
man. "Thank you. Sepoy," and off you go. 
"A chair, sir? A chair, sir?" The cry 
comes from two great fellows in blue 
cotton attire. You are going into town, 
doubtless you would like to make a tour of 
the place : here is a kind of sedan-chair. 
For a small sum, two francs an hour or 
fifteen francs a day, they will carry you ra- 
pidly and smoothly, with undulating motion, 
and without jolt or jar, to the summit of the 
Peak, or the farthest end of the town. "A 
chair, sir ? " You decline. " I prefer walking." 
They are not discouraged. Stop at the hotel ; 


choose your room, make your ablutions, take 
a cup of tea or a glass of port, if you will ; 
you are bound to meet them again below ; 
they follow you whithersoever you go. 
Cross the principal street. Queen's Road, 
where carriages and jinrikshas are passing 
to and fro : there they are lying in wait for 
you. — **A chair, sir?'' — **No, I'd rather climb." 

Well, climb if you will ; the mountain is 
in front of you. You wend your way along 
the steep and winding lane with its flights 
of stone stairs; turning and twisting about, 
at last you find yourself shut inside a long 
alley without a vista. Ahead of you the 
road winds to the right ; behind you it winds 
to the left; on either side a row of houses, 
cottages standing next to mansions, robbing 
you of all view of sea or mountain ; dishear- 
tened, you gaze about you, and languidly 

Again the cry, **A chair, sir?" No; still 
another try : a few hundred yards more and 
I shall be rewarded for my trouble. You 
continue your acsent, but the prospest has 
hardly changed. The road merely becomes 
wider; it is now a carriage road, bordered 
by a row of trees — and these trees are 
tree-ferns ; their foliage being branches shoot- 
ing out into the shape of a superb dome 
above your head. But one grows tired at 
last of ferns, even of tree-ferns. And where 


is this vaunted vista? Where this matchless 
panoramic view ? Perplexed, you glance fur- 
tively around you ; the porters are no longer 
there. Surely there must be a boy, or some 
poor beggar, to send and fetch them? Not 
a soul. Here everybody works : thieves 
there are, but no beggars. Halting , you 
turn back. " A chair, sir ? '' They were there 
after all. Captured and beaten, you get in, 
and stretch yourself out, mopping your 
forehead. *'Go on." They start and from 
that moment you may bid adieu to your 
mountaineering. As long as you remain at 
Hong-Kong, you will walk no more ; you 
will be a captive to the sedan-chair, the 
* push-push,' or the boat.- Blaming yourself 
for it, you will accuse yourself of cowardice, 
and make resolutions. ''A chair, sir? '' and 
you are sure to get in. And in after years, 
should your fate take you to some less hos- 
pitable colony (there are such), when trud- 
ging along some rough, muddy or dusty 
road in the sun, you will with sorrow (no 
uncommon feeling in those parts) dream of 
those Hong-Kong porters, so irrepressible, 
so attentive, and such good fellows. 

At last the summit is reached. On the 
highest point is an observatory; all around 
you are houses as commodious and elegant 
as those which you saw below ; gardens, 
terraces, cricket-grounds, lawn-tennis courts. 


running streams or, perhaps, springs. Turn 
your back on the town : there is the limitless 
expanse of ocean; to the right, the little 
port of Aberdeen with its docks, more 
especially sought for in stormy weather; 
further on, the Sanatorium of the Catholic 
missions. To the left, a few villas ; narrow 
strips of cultivated land ; a Chinese village ; a 
farm where European and American cattle are 
being acclimatised; thence, in constant suc- 
cession, at various points, till the summit is 
reached, water-works, aqueducts and, in dark 
cavernous recesses, deep reservoirs full of 
blue water, resembling undiscovered lakes. 
Now turn facing the town. On the steep 
incline the villas are lost to view in the 
dense mass of foliage ; at one bound and 
without any interruption your gaze rests on 
the port beneath. Steamers look like 
boats, and boats like nut-shells. Farther 
away, the Kowloon Peninsula, the Hong- 
Kong and Whampoa docks, the arsenal, the 
dry docks, and still . further away, but only 
visible on a clear day, a grey speck which 
is Canton. But the ^^ shades of eve'' are 
falling and you must descend : twilight in 
the tropics is short, and the nights are 
chilly. On your downward way you will 
catch glimpses, through the windings of the 
roads and in between the arches of the 
aqueducts, of the villas and the sea. Your 


porters carry you along with lengthy strides. 
Reserve your visit to the Public Gardens 
and the Cemetery for the morrow and 
hasten to the harbour. The merchant princes, 
business being over, have ordered their 
steam-launches at a certain point : a party 
of friends and a supper await them on board. 
Have you no acquaintance among them who 
will invite you aboard ? Make haste ; they 
are about to start, veering round towards 
Kowloon, steam is suddenly shut off, and 
slowly dissolves while the boat hardly moves 
along. The gentle rocking of the waves, the 
unknown hour, the fading twilight — all unite 
in lending an infinite charm to this moment. 
Night has come. The town is beginning 
to light up; above it, midst the foliage and 
along the winding roads one by one the 
villas are being illuminated, the lights casting 
weird shadows on the dark back-ground of 
the mountain. The landscape recedes into 
a vast expanse; the Peak stands out boldly 
against the deep azure sky. Silence is only 
broken by a shrill voice in some boat inton- 
ing a weird and melancholy cadence ; the 
stars shine forth ; your gaze is riveted on 
the heavens, and your mind recalls the past 
or wanders into dreams. Try not to recall 
enchanted countries and call up no charmed 
visions : before you lies Hong-Kong, forty 
years ago a naked rock. 


Reasons for Occupation — Discouraging circumstances 
attending the same — Intended Withdrawal- 
Eventual Retention. 

After a prolonged experience of over fifty 
years it is easy to sum up fluently and with 
precision the advantages accruing from the 
possession of Hong-Kong. A glance at the 
map is sufficient to note the position it 
occupies on the coast of China, at the base 
of a sector which embraces in its carve 
Yokohama, Shanghai, Singapore, Java, and 

It is less easy, but still not difficult, to 
point out the causes which have assured its 
success, and transformed in less than half a 
century what used to be a rugged strand and 
an almost deserted roadstead into a busy 
port, and a hospitable city. 

But in 1842, and in the following years 
up to 1848, these advantages were less ap- 
parent, and these causes infinitely more 


obscure. In opposition to those who had 
advocated the occupation of Hong-Kong and 
still wished to retain it, adducing the most 
convincing arguments to prove its ultimate 
success, there were others who strongly fa- 
voured its abandonment and predicted failure 
on demonstrable grounds. Hong-Kong has long 
since proved a success, and the discussion 
is over. But it seems — and this must surely 
strongly urge more modesty — that everybody 
was mistaken. The statesmen who directed 
the policy of the United Kingdom greatly 
blundered : they occupied Hong-Kong anti- 
cipating advantages which lasted but a short 
time on account of the almost immediate 
change in the situation. The specialists, who 
with some show of reason criticised the Go- 
vernment, were mistaken; scarcely one of their 
arguments was verified, scarcely one of their 
fears was realised. Hong-Kong finally owed 
its prosperity to almost accidental causes 
which could with difficulty be foreseen, and 
which no one foresaw. 

Hong-Kong, as we have seen, had been 
ceded to the British from the very beginning 
of the war; the cession was, however, 
merely a provisional one, and the victorious 
British, if they had so wished, could have 
exchanged it for an equivalent portion of 
some other territory. Now, at the commen- 
cement of the negotiations at Nankin which 


led to the drawing up of the definitive treaty, 
they had possession of another island of 
scarcely greater extent on the east coast, 
a little beyond Shanghai, at a moderate dis- 
tance from the mainland, namely: the island 
of Chusan. It seems that according to British 
opinions, the preference should have been 
given to Chusan. Chusan is not appreciably 
farther than Hong-Kong from the British 
possessions washed by the Indian and Pacific 
Oceans. As a trading depot it occupies the 
same position towards Shanghai that Hong- 
Kong does towards Canton ; regarding it as 
a military station it is of greater importance 
being nearer to the heart and head of the 
Chinese Empire ; lastly it admits of more 
direct action, in case of need, over Japan, the 
Corea, and the rich provinces of Eastern 
China. Notwithstanding all this, the British 
gave the preference to Hong-Kong. This 
choice was not the result of ignorance, for 
the alternative was discussed; ' nor was it 
due to scruples ; moderation, or the fear of 

* " You are authorised to propose the following con- 
ditions : if an island on the east coast of China be ceded 
to the British Crown for use as a commercial station 
by British subjects, the Chinese merchants and inhabitants 
of all the towns and cities on the coast of China will 
be authorised by the Chinese Government to come freely 
to that island, without hindrance or molestation, for the 
purpose of trading with the British subjects settled there." 
(Foreign Office Despatch of 3rd February 1841). 


exasperating China: the real weakness of 
that State of colossal proportions had long 
been known to the Foreign Office. ' British 
diplomatists were convinced that Hong-Kong 
on account of its proximity to Canton occu- 
pied a position preferable to any other. 

Canton held, indeed, at that time, a posi- 
tion in the Chinese Empire which it has never 
since regained. With a population of two 
millions, it was the capital of a very indus- 
trious province, and the centre of a very 
extensive trade. It was the only town where 
foreigners were authorised to reside, a special 
quarter being assigned to them, and a power- 
ful corporation, the Hongs, acting as their 
agents with the Chinese population. And so 
from all parts, tea, silk, lacquer, and the va- 
rious articles of Chinese manufacture flowed 
into it for purposes of international exchange. 

As this was the state of affairs, the British 
argued as follows : The Chinese being an 
ignorant people and slaves to routine — as 
at least they were still supposed to be at 
that time — will resume their old habits when 
peace is restored. What will be the use of 
the stipulated opening of four new ports — 
Amoy, Ningpo, Foo-Chow and Shanghai — to 
European commerce ; the bulk of Chinese 

' See the Report of the British Court of Inquiry on 
China which sat in 1830. The principal results were 
deposited in the " Bibliothfeque Universelle." 


produce will still be transmitted to Canton, 
which will thus retain its former supremacy. 
Matters will doubtless turn out differently for 
the people of Western countries. True, the 
former regime has enriched them ; but, trou- 
blesome and vexatious it has exposed them 
to the caprice of the Mandarins, the exac- 
tions of the brokers, the violence of the 
crowd; they will, consequently, only return 
to settle in one or other of the open ports 
at the last extremity. But this very extremity 
will be spared them by Hong-Kong. Through 
its being adjacent to the largest market in 
China, it offers, under the protection of the 
British flag, a meeting-place and a centre of 
security and justice to both Europeans and 
Chinese. We may therefore flatter ourselves 
that foreigners will come and settle there, 
and that the brokers of Canton will readily 
cross the narrow arm of sea which divides 
the island from the mainland. 

Now, if this supposition is realised, unex- 
pected advantages will be secured at one 
and the same time : the jealous corporation of 
the Hongs will be got rid of, the island will 
be peopled with capitalists and rich merchants, 
buyers and sellers will alike be attracted to 
it, and it will become the longed-for empo- 
rium of that part of the world. Nor is this 
all. Possessing a hold on a vast metropolis, 
the centre of incalculable riches, as a sort 


of pledge for the conduct of the Chinese 
Government : at the first insult on the part 
of the latter we can take possession of it, 
and under these circumstances Hong-Kong, 
from a military standpoint, represents what 
the Greeks termed sTnraiKKTiJLx, namely, a for- 
tified post commanding the enemy's country. 

And all this seemed perfectly reasonable 
and admirably planned. 

Finally, as a finishing stroke, the Chinese 
Government consented to recognise the Go- 
vernor of Hong-Kong as Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary of her Britannic Majesty, and to 
accredit him to the Viceroy of the two 
Kuangs, who was himself invested with full 
powers. Seeing all this, Lord Derby was 
entitled to write: ''We occupy Hong-Kong, 
not with the object of colonising, but of 
utilising it from a commercial, and a military 
point of view." 

Acting upon these assurances, the Govern- 
ment and private individuals vied with each 
other in enterprise and audacity. Merchant 
settlers arrived in flocks; plans for a town 
were drawn up ; w^arehouses, docks, barracks, 
law-courts, churches, schools and houses were 
built ; sites — space being, as we have already 
said, very limited — realised extreme prices at 
auction, and already, after less than two 
years, it was thought that the most ambi- 
tious dreams were within measurable distance 


of realisation, when — almost on a sudden — 
the enthusiasm died out; the life and vigour 
of the new colony seemed to subside. 

Hardly anything of all that had been relied 
on, had been realised, and unexpected ob- 
stacles were encountered. 

The advent of the Chinese had been rec- 
koned on : they failed to come, and those 
that did come, one would have liked to 
expel. ^' The island of Hong-Kong,'' said a 
high British official in 1841; **will probably 
become the favourite resort of the smugglers 
and debauchees of that quarter of the globe.'' 
And his prediction was being fulfilled. 

The most flourishing establishments of 
Hong-Kong were the opium-dens, the gaming, 
and other houses of worse fame. From the 
very first year, it was computed that there 
was a population of 91 women, whose place 
of abode no European, except the police, 
appeared to know. The Chinese immigrants 
belonged to the lowest grades of society. 
One solitary Chinaman of some respectabil- 
ity ventured to try his fortune there ; his 
name, — which is on record — , was Chinam ; he 
stayed some months, then returned to Canton 
and died there; it is asserted that the Man- 
darins would never have allowed him to 

The advent of Europeans had been ex- 
pected; but they, too, were not forthcoming. 


The Parsees of India had shown some slight 
inclination to establish counting-houses, and 
offices had already been prepared for them, 
but they made no haste to put in an appea- 
rance, and they even tried — as far as can 
be gathered from the local press, which en- 
deavoured to hold the Government respon- 
sible for this grievous state of affairs — to 
get rid of them. Of Englishmen, there were 
a few men of means, but they were all 
opium merchants. As the drug, as it was 
termed, could only be introduced fraudulently 
into China, they had made Hong-Kong, a 
much safer port for them than Macao, their 
central depot, whither the smugglers came to 
fetch it. The other English houses one by 
one gradually went into liquidation. Suspi- 
cious-looking junks, and war-vessels or trans- 
ports were the only ships that anchored 
inside the harbour. 

What made it harder and more humili- 
ating was, that the ports newly opened by 
the treaty of Nankin were thrown open to 
foreigners and actually reaped success. A 
thoroughly practical modus vivendi had been 
established at these ports: ** concessions'' in 
the charge of Europeans were exclusively 
reserved to the latter; dwellings and ware- 
houses sprang up, uniting the comfort and 
security of European towns to the tempting 
vicinity of Chinese trade. 


After some hesitation, and a few painful 
incidents, settlements at Ning-po, Amoy and, 
especially, at Shanghai were organised, and 
they soon attracted, to the detriment of 
Canton, a trade which was not unimportant, 
and which was likely to increase enormously. 

Nor was this all. Canton which had 
promised to reopen its gates to Europeans 
kept them persistently closed. The popu- 
lation of that province had always been 
extremely inimical to Europeans, and both 
the Viceroy and the Government, instead of 
suppressing, fostered this feeling. Conse- 
quently, for the first few years after the 
war of 1 84 1, Europeans could do little more 
than settle at Whampoa, the outer port of 
Canton, or in the suburbs outside the walls, 
the town itself being forbidden them. * And 

' The text of the treaties concluded between 
China and the European Powers, though permitting that 
these ports should be thrown open to foreign trade, 
did not positively promise the entry within the walls of 
the towns. The Chinese text signified that Europeans 
might reside at either of the five ports, where the 
trading took place or the goods were landed, at the 
mouth of the river; that is to say, at places suitable 
for commerce, but which are not necessarily inside the 
fortified town. As the text was open to controversy, it 
was very variously interpreted. At Shanghai, for instance, 
foreigners were permitted to enter the town, so as to 
put a stop to the system of concession; at Canton and 
Foo-Chow the right of entering the town was denied 
them. The British Consul at Foo-Chow, however, 
resided in the town. 


this, too, with absolute disregard of a solemn 
treaty, and with so manifest a contempt 
for the power of Great Britain that the 
British who for the sake of their expecta- 
tions and their interests should have been 
delighted at this attitude of the Chinese, 
and should have profited by it to attract 
foreigners to Hong-Kong, found themselves 
obliged, in order to maintain their prestige, 
to demand the opening of Canton, and to 
send an expedition against it. The expedi- 
tion was successful, and the opening of 
Canton was publicly promised for the Spring 
of 1849.* 

But in the midst of all these reverses 
added to costly expeditions which were so 
detrimental to trade, and to the increasing 

' In 1849, however, the promised opening was still 
further deferred. The Emperor of China wrote a curious 
letter to the Governor of Hong-Kong: "Empires," he 
said, "only last, as long as the people is protected. 
Now the people of Canton are unanimous in their 
refusal to allow foreigners to enter their town: can I 
have my imperial will proclaimed everywhere, and make 
it prevail against theirs.?" In consequence of this, a 
proclamation was issued by the British authorities invit- 
ing their fellow-countrymen to relinquish their en- 
deavours to enter Canton. (On all these points, see the 
"Chinese Repository" of the years 1849 and 1850). 

In 185 1 there were only 81 British residents at Can- 
ton : 5 consular agents, i clergyman, i missionary, 4 
doctors, 22 merchants, i banker, i bank-clerk, 2 auc- 
tioneers, 18 mercantile clerks, 14 tea-tasters, etc. Besides 
these, there were 148 Indians who were British subjects. 


development of Shanghai, ^ the manifest ten- 
dency of Chinese trade to set towards the 
east coast, and the despondency which per- 
vaded even the most sanguine, Hong-Kong 
rapidly declined and seemed to be irretriev- 
ably lost. ^ 

This twofold and severe check was still 
further increased by present mishaps, and 
fears for the future. 

The new possession was terribly costly. 
Since its occupation the expenses had risen 
to an average of ;^2 50,000 per annum; the 
receipts never exceeding ;^ 10,000 to ;^ 12,000. 

* In 1849, the business transacted with these ports, 
by European countries was distributed as follows: 

I. Canton: British Imports ;^ 1,646,000 

Exports 2,300,000 

(The figures referring to the business of other powers 
are missing: they were insignificant.) 

II. Other open ports : 

Amoy: Imports ^^ 1,496,000 

Exports 277,006 

Shanghai: British Imports 974,000 

Those of other countries . 1,209,000 

British Exports .... 1,438,000 

Those of other countries . 1,754,000 
Canton was, thus, left far behind. 

2 On the 13th August 1845, the British merchants 
and residents addressed a memorandum on the state of 
the colony to Lord Stanley, Under-Secretary of State 
for the Colonies. "After 4 years' occupation," they 
said, " there is scarcely a single foreign resident, beyond 
the officials and a few British merchants; amongst the 
Chinese merchants or even shop-keepers, there is not 
one who has any pretensions to the title of honest man." 


And, already useless from a commercial point 
of view, it threatened to become equally so 
from a military, and a diplomatic standpoint. 

It was felt that the Government of the 
Emperor of China was beginning to treat the 
'* barbarians" and the '*red devils '' with less 
contempt; that it would soon take upon 
itself the investigation and settlement of mat- 
ters which concerned them, so that ere long 
it would no longer be at Canton, but at 
Pekin that negotiations would have to be 
carried on. At the same time, experts gave 
it as their opinion that the island of Hong- 
Kong was strategically of no value. They 
affirmed that for defensive tactics there was 
no doubt of this ; it could never be efficiently 
fortified, whatever amount were spent upon it ; 
and, as to the offensive, the same conclusion 
obtruded itself still more forcibly: troops 
could not stand the climate and their num- 
bers visibly dwindled away. 

Neither of these arguments was necessarily 
conclusive; experience, however, extending 
over several years, amply proved their truth. 

But the last objection raised against the 
new colony; its unhealthiness — rwhich was a 
stern reality, and indeed did not disappear 
until close upon our time, was of a special- 
ly serious nature, and might well appeal to 
public opinion. 

Prior to the British occupation, Hong-Kong 


was scarcely known. The East India Com- 
pany had indeed anchored its vessels there 
since 1837; and in 1839, during the opium 
riots at Canton, most of the merchant vessels 
trading to China repaired thither. But only 
the harbour was made use of; scarcely any 
one landed, or if they did so, they did not 
go beyond the beach ; no one had ever stayed 
there for any length of time. Indeed, the 
climate had by no means a good reputation. 
From the earliest days of the occupation 
Sir Henry Pottinger wrote : "The climate of 
Hong-Kong is said to be unhealthy in the 
valleys which surround the paddy flats, where 
miasmatic effluvia abound; but the higher 
portions of the island are healthy; it will 
most probably be necessary to shift the 
rising colony to this higher ground so as to 
avoid the dangerous fevers so common 
amongst troops and settlers.'' But nothing is 
more difficult than to shift a colony even at 
an early stage of its existence; the people 
remained where they had taken land, and the 
result was an appalling mortality. 

In 1842, a single man-of-war stationed at 
Hong-Kong, the Agincourt^ lost half her 
complement of men and was obliged to re- 
cruit 160 sailors belonging to the merchant 
service. In 1843, out of 1,526 men in garri- 
son, the number admitted into hospital was 
7)839, z. ^., every man of them had been ad- 

^F,,5 men had lost 51 "> » ^ General 

fs iore, wt-o vere 'f^'j^.fjy Somerset 
i.^guilar wrote to Lord r , ^ ^ 

fhat Hong-Kong would cost H ^^^ 

""„ 4e average death rat y,^ troops, 

*° tlong-Kong it was 2*/° ^»°"«i„ a single 
^' A^ 10% among the "^'''?Jf n^vis, fell i" 
ari ,«., the Governor, Mr "'""'^ f-^,,,. 

y«^'V nt'on sick leave to Chu-^^^^Sts 


disorganised-, so that out of >^ turov 
families 3 disappeared entirely, and the others, 
utterly demoralised, left the island. 

This extraordinary mortality was "o doubt 
partially due to all sorts of imprudence, ana 
as regards the troops, to excesses in eatmg 
and drinking, quite as much as to the insul- 
ficient barrack accommodation. But it must 
also be in a considerable measure attributed 


to the climate itself, and there the enemies 
of Hong-Kong had a strong case. The tem- 
perature was subject to sudden changes, as 
must necessarily happen at a point where the 
tropical and the temperate zones meet ; during 
six months of the year (from April to Sep- 
tember) it was inordinately high 44® to 50° 
cent:) and the remaining six months were 
scarcely any better. On Christmas Day 
nearly 43® centigrade had been registered. 
The duration and copiousness of the rains 
were hardly credible: in the year 1845-46, 
from July to July, there was a rainfall of 
92 inches in 142 days. Human precautions 
were powerless to cope with such a rainfall. 
Add to this that the sub-soil was composed 
of a species of disintegrated granite which 
under the action of damp became putrid and 
emitted noxious gases which no works, 
plantations, drainage, etc., were capable of 
exorcising. Under such circumstances what 
was to become of Hong-Kong? 

And these were not mere isolated com- 
plaints. All were unanimous in their opinion 
of the climate, trade, and future prospects of 
the island. Dr. Thompson, Chief of the Hong- 
Kong Medical Staff, stated that ^^the island 
would never be healthy." Dr. McPherson 
who had just spent two years in China ^ 

' " Two Years in China." 


was of opinion that it (the island) possessed 
very few advantages with its bare mountains, 
its diminutive valleys, its abrupt declivities 
overhanging the sea, leaving scarcely any space 
for buildings; and its climate was far from 
healthy. Kowloon, opposite, appeared to him 
infinitely preferable. Another traveller, a 
Mr. Davidson, * remarked concerning Victoria 
the capital of the island, that a more ridi- 
culous site for a town could not have been 
chosen. ^^It is open on the north and ex- 
posed to a cutting wind all through the win- 
ter; and in summer it is completely shut 
out from the cool southerly breezes which 
are so refreshing to exhausted colonists.*' 
A Frenchman, M. Xavier Raymond, who was 
then (i8th August 1844) with Lagrene*s mis- 
sion at Macao, wrote to M. Armand Bertin, 
Editor of the Debuts : *^ Thank Heaven, Macao, 
in spite of its nearness to Hong-Kong, which 
has been again this year nothing but a char- 
nel-house, — is very healthy.*' Lastly, a British 
official, Mr. Montgomery-Martin, author of 
much esteemed works on China, and the 
British Colonies 2 commenced a campaign 

' " Trade and Travels in the East." 

2 " China, political, commercial and social," 2 vols, 
8vo, London, James Muilden, 1847. This work contains 
most of the documents and despatches relating to this 
subject published by the British Government, and laid 
before The House of Commons in February and 
March 1857. 


destined to last twelve years through all the 
successive ministries, to bring about the 
evacuation of Hong-Kong. In the metropolis 
public opinion was as a rule hostile, while 
the newspaper articles were mostly alarming; ' 
the Government, startled by these criticisms, 
called on the Governor for a categorical 
reply, and the latter admitted, with many 
apologies, that it would have been better 
not to have occupied the island. An official 
of high rank wrote to a friend on 25 th July 
1846: "Nothing is more significant than the 
change of tone adopted by the merchants. 
Not one of those with whom I have con- 
versed entertains the smallest hope of main- 
taining Hong-Kong as a commercial station ; 
it is simply a question of avoiding any 
further engagements, and of losing as little 
as possible beyond what has already been 
lost. The reduction of the forces in gar- 
rison, and the daily departures will complete 
the general collapse.'* 

Lastly, Lord Grey who had been Secre- 
tary of State for the Colonies in Lord John 
Russell's administration, made the following 

* A very severe article on Hong-Kong in *' The 
Times" of 17th December 1844; further articles, one 
on 6th April 1846, another in July of the same year, 
on the deplorable state and the wretched prospects of 
the colony. 


declaration a few years later.' "If it 
could have been foreseen what the total 
expenses would amount to, and what limited 
advantages this place would possess for our 
trade, it would not have been thought worth 
while to occupy it. But that had already 
been done long before our administration 
was formed; it only remained for us to 
endeavour to diminish the cost of an estab- 
lishment which had been instituted on a 
scale worthy of the supposed importance of 
Hong-Kong at a time when it was confi- 
dently expected that it would become the 
great emporium of the trade with China. 
In 1846 it had already become evident that 
this would not be the case, and that the 
greater portion of our commerce would pass 
through the ports into which our merchants 
are admitted.'* 

The question of abandonment had then 
been put. It appears that the proposal was 
again made, and more formally, in 1847, 
and in 1849.^ But the British, a wise and 
experienced people, who from the time of 
Lord Bacon have been aware that a colony 
"yields no returns for twenty years and little 

* " The Colonial Policy of Lord John Russell's ad- 
ministration." 2 vols. 8vo, London, R. Bentley, 1853, 
2nd Ed: p. 265. 

* Report of the French Consul, M. Godeaux, dated 
17th April 1863. 


for fifty/' and who, in taking over the colo- 
nies of other nations, have been able to 
form an estimate of the value of these waifs 
abandoned with scorn and contempt, — the 
British, on this as on other occasions, did 
not give up what they had once held. And 
events proved that they were right : ere long 
unforeseen circumstances occurred tending 
to confer on this almost useless place a 
commercial importance of the highest order ; 
works systematically and perseveringly car- 
ried out had the effect of rendering the 
malarious climate more healthy ; the deserted 
port and forsaken city were to become one 
of the most favoured and frequented places 
in the world. 


The first beginnings of the Colony — Diary of its 
earlier years. 

In the annals of colonisation there is, 
perhaps, nothing more curious, or, regarded 
as a means of improving colonial policy, 
more instructive, than the study of the earlier 
years of a colony. The spectacle of all the 
vicissitudes of the undertaking, and of all 
the sudden changes of opinion, becomes at 
times almost emotional in its interest. And 
on the other hand, it is necessary to have 
had opportunities, either in the colony itself 
or in its parent metropolis, of observing the 
ardour and enthusiasm with which the work 
is undertaken, followed ere long by despon- 
dency and prostration; the intense efforts 
and the protracted intervals of inactivity; 
the fervour displayed for new leaders, the 
scorn for those continuing in office, the 
ingratitude towards those retiring; the occa- 
sional fits of reciprocal confidence, universal 


good-will, and even sometimes fraternisation, 
followed in their turn by suspicions, dispar- 
agement and jealousies, — in order to be able 
to explain the abrupt mode of procedure, 
the spasmodic development, the symptoms 
of feverishness and incoherency which cha- 
racterise the infancy and the adolescence of 

Such a study furnishes, moreover, another 

Many years must elapse before a colony 
can be fully developed. Founded, as it 
most frequently is, amidst the criticisms of 
some and the apprehensions of others, pros- 
perity does not dawn upon it, as a rule, 
until both friends and foes of its early 
days are no longer there to rejoice 
together, or to acknowledge their defeat. 
And, as colonies form but a small portion 
of the entire globe, and their history but a 
chapter of the colossal history of the uni- 
verse, it follows as a consequence that the 
career of each individual colony, and the 
legitimate conclusions to be derived there- 
from, remain almost entirely unknown. Thus 
the same criticisms and the same apprehen- 
sions recur with every new undertaking, 
the example of those which have preceded 
it failing to calm fear or dispel sad fore- 
bodings. Such being the case, a book giving 
an account of the first beginnings of the 


various colonies, and indicating their varied 
vicissitudes, their hopes, illusions, discou- 
ragements and successes could not fail 
to prove of inestimable value. It is as a 
contribution towards such a work that we 
have, with the aid of English documents and 
books, condensed into the form of a diary, 
a short account of the earlier years of Hong- 

1 84 1. — On the 25th Jan., at 8.15 a. m. 
the island was taken possession of by the 
British forces. Captain Charles Elliot R.N., 
Superintendent of the trade with China, 
is nominated ex-officio Governor of the 
new possession. — On the 30th Mar., Major 
Caine is appointed Chief Magistrate, and 
Mr. Johnson, Deputy Superintendent of trade. — 
1st May, first number of the Official 
Gazette (a weekly journal) published. — 
14th June, first sale of land. 51 plots put 
up to auction; the price consists in the 
payment of an annual rent: the purchasers 
further undertaking to erect, on each plot 
within six months, a building worth at least 
1000 dollars. The total rent realised by this 
first sale amounts to ^3,224. The largest 
buyers are Messrs. Jardine and Matheson, 
Dent & Co., and others. — Before the end of 
the year the island possesses a law-court, 
a prison, a cemetery, and a carriage-road. 
A colonist procures a two-horse carriage 


from Manilla, to inaugurate the road. — 
Total population : 7,450. 

1842. — The chief events of this year are 
the diplomatic negotiations ending in the 
signing of the Treaty of Nankin. — Works of 
urgent necessity executed. — The Chinese 
number already 12,300. 

1843. — 26th June, ratification of the 
Treaty of Nankin. — Sir Henry Pottinger who 
negotiated the treaty is appointed Governor. 
— The capital of the island is named Vtc- 
toria. — The island is granted a colonial 
charter. — The appointment of Judges of the 
peace ; the construction of law-courts and of 
a Court of Admiralty; the drafting of a 
table of dues and licenses, and the extension 
of commercial regulations are proceeded 
with. — First difficulties with the Chinese 
population; numerous thefts; the Chinese 
are compelled to carry a lantern at night ; 
numerous cases of piracy and smuggling ; 
both Chinese authorities at Canton and 
English authorities at Hong-Kong issue threat- 
ening proclamations, but to no purpose. 
First number of two periodicals published: 
the Eastern Globe and the Canton Regis- 
ter. Important branch of a large London 
firm established at Hong-Kong. — Inaugura- 
tion of the Roman Catholic church. — The 
French man-of-war, VErigone^ is the first to 
salute the British flag: an American vessel 


refuses to do so, having received no instruc- 
tions. — First arrival of ice (ist February). 
— Accommodation for settlers is hard to find ; 
a small house letting as high as 13 dollars 
a month. — Organisation, though on quite a 
primitive scale, of a postal service : the post- 
master forwards the entire batch of letters 
to the nearest addressee, with the request 
to forward those which are not for him by 
coolies to their respective destinations. 

1844. — Town very unsafe; people com- 
pelled to sleep with a loaded pistol at hand. 
The opium merchants (opium being the 
only trade of any importance) do not land 
their goods ; they leave them on board boats 
for the purpose (called receiving ships) in the 
harbour, on which also is stowed at night 
nearly all the colony's bullion. — In June, the 
second Governor, Mr. Davis, nominated. — 
2 1 St August, a new regulation imposing a 
poll-tax on all Chinese residents : on hearing 
which they quit the island en masse for the 
mainland. — Institution of a supreme court of 
justice (2 1st August). — Publishing-office of the 
Chinese Repository transferred from Canton to 
Hong-Kong. — The Chinese number already 
19,000, but they are not resident families ; these 
only number 1,000 women and children. 

1845. — 2 1st February, first issue of the 
China Mail, — Slight improvement in the 
public health. The house of Jardine, Mathe- 


son & Co. forms the centre of the European 
settlement. Around it are grouped some 
thirty dwelling-houses. A little further west 
are three or four more European houses, 
and a small Chinese village. Above, on the 
slope of the hill, are the buildings of The 
Morrison Education Society y the hospital of 
the Missionaries Medical Society ^ the Sailors' 
Hospital, and the residence of the Chief Jus- 
tice. Further out in a westerly direction 
are temporary barracks, officers' quarters, 
the parade-ground, and the private residence 
of the Governor. Still further out and higher 
up the mountain is Government House. About 
fifteen streets constitute the whole of this 
embryo town. — 13th August, first Peninsular 
and Oriental Company's (P. and O.) Steamer 
arrives, the Lady Mary Wood, * 

1846. — Symptoms of discouragement 
amongst the colonists. — State of sanitation 
deplorable. Pirates abound : 80 pirates plun- 
der the village of Spekpai-wan. — A monthly 
Portuguese mail established between Gibraltar 
and Hong-Kong; but its charges are exor- 
bitant, — Difficulties in regard to the land 
occuptyeedh colonists ; the titles of ownership 
have is hso put in order. — The first barrister 
establr,ibheei mself at Hong-Kong. — A small 
steam t ned Corsair^ begins to ply regularly 

' 650 tons, and 250 horse power. Ed: 


between Hong-Kong and Canton. — nth Au- 
gust, a piece of land, with a sea-frontage 
of more than 200 feet, and bordered by a 
sea-wall, which cost 3000 dollars finds no 
purchaser at any price (this is only one out 
of ten such cases). — In August, the residents 
are officially warned not to go out unarmed, 
or beyond the precincts of the town. — The 
^Triade', a Chinese Secret Society, estabHshes 
itself at Hong-Kong. 

1847. — A great increase in the number of 
pirates; law passed against piracy. — Muni- 
cipal measures; lighting: every European is 
bound to erect a lamp in front of his house. — 
A scientific society, the Royal Asiatic Society^ 
establishes a branch at Hong-Kong, the China 
Branch. — In April, Major General d'Aguilar's 
expedition to compel the throwing open of 
Canton (the inner town) to foreigners. — 6th 
April, convention fixing the opening for the 
spring of 1849. — I^ May, rumours of a Chinese 
attempt to seize Hong-Kong. — Numerous 
cases of piracy. — The Chief Justice, Mr. Hume, 
suspended from his duties. 

1848. — Departure of the Governor, Mr. 
Davis; Sir George Bonham succeeds him. — 
The colonists demand a reduction of the 
ground rents paid to the crown. — Improve- 
ment in public health. — In July, the Chinese 
attempt to poison 25 men of the Royal Ar- 
tillery, — Numerous cases of piracy ; pirates 


captured and condemned are pardoned ; vigo- 
rous protests in the local press. — In August, 
great sickness amongst the troops in garri- 
son. — The Chinese sell powder to the pirates. — 
An order of 31st August regulates the traf- 
fic in arms and ammunition. — The colonists 
bitterly complain of the Peninsular and 
Oriental Company's high charges, and the 
tardy manner in which goods are delivered. — 
The total population amounts to about 24,CXK>. 
1849. — The 95th regiment presents Mr. Jar- 
dine with a cup in recognition of his kind 
services and his efficient aid during the 
sickness that prevailed amongst the troops. — 
Up to 1st March, the Crown has sold, since 
the occupation of the island, 337 plots of 
ground, bringing in a rental of ;^i 3,327; 
but several of the lessees have been declared 
defaulters. — ist March, two officers assassi- 
nated by the native villagers of Chek-Choo. — 
Mortality increases. — The Governor of Macao 
assassinated by pirates. — 2nd October, the 
British fleet destroys 23 pirate-junks. — 3rd 
December, a plot of ground, bought for i ,000 
dollars and considerably improved, is resold 
for 20 dollars. — Difficulties in regard to the 
regulations respecting landed property. — Pro- 
ject to establish a central market which, how- 
ever, is unsuccessful. — Immense number of 
pirates annihilated between Hong-Kong and 
Cochin China. 


1850. — 17th February, the Court of Ad- 
miralty suppressed; the jurisdiction hitherto 
exercised by it restored to the courts of 
common law. — A heavy tax imposed on 
opium with a view to diminish its use amongst 
the Chinese; vigorous protests against this 
measure on the part of the colonists. — 
During the summer, up to the month of 
September, great mortality amongst the 

1 85 1. — Situation continues precarious. — 
8th March, the Economist^ a London paper, 
publishes an unfavourable financial article on 
Hong-Kong. — The Oriental Bank incorpo- 
rated by Royal Charter. — Difficulty expe- 
rienced in administering oaths to Chinese. — 
76 deaths amongst troops numbering less 
than 800 men. 

1852. — A deputation of European colonists 
waits on the Governor to urge upon him 
the desirability of attracting Chinese colo- 
nists, and to propose, as a means to this 
end, that the rent of the ground occupied 
be remitted to them for the first year of 
occupation. — Transport of Chinese coolies to 
America : first departure for Peru. — The Gov- 
ernor, Sir George Bonham^ leaves Hong- 
Kong; the Chinese present him with an 
earnest address of thanks and regret, a 
more or less spontaneous demonstration 
which the press characterises as a "gross 


attempt at humbug.*' — He is succeeded by 
Mr. Bowring. — Repeated attacks on Europe- 
ans by Chinese. — Coolies mutiny on board 
the transports conveying them, the Robert 
Brown and the Lady Montagu; in this 
same year (1852), 6 similar cases, and 19 
cases of piracy. — The island contains 37,CXX) 
inhabitants, 35,500 of them being Chinese; 
Victoria alone has 12,000 inhabitants, but 
the Chinese are not yet settled : over 12,000 
of them have no other habitation than their 

1853. — Establishment of bi-monthly mails 
between Europe and the colony. — In March, 
14 cases of piracy in the immediate vicinity 
of Hong-Kong; two regular fleets of pirate- 
vessels sweep the seas. — In April, 13 cases; 
in May, 5 cases; the same number in June, 
and in July. — The vessel Aratoon Apear is 
seized by the Chinese crew, who massacre 
the officers, European sailors and passengers. 
— 70 cases of piracy during the year. — 
Deaths among the troops: 56. 

1854. — American Consul appointed. — Great 
development of coolie-transport to California : 
a vessel belonging to the firm of Jardine, 
Matheson & Co makes 90,000 dollars by a 
single voyage. — The Chinese of Hong-Kong 
come into open conflict with the police. — 
Crimean War: a Russian fleet signalled in 
the environs of Manilla; the colony prepares 


to defend itself.— A number of the Chinese 
of Hong-Kong emigrate to Jamaica.— i he 
EngUsh law of libel declared applicable to 

Hong-Kong. . 

1855.— Action brought by a colonist (sup- 
ported, apparently, by a syndicate) against 
the Peninsular and Oriental S. N. Co., for 
delay in delivering goods.— nth May, treaty 
of commerce and friendship concluded with 
the Kingdom of Siam ; return of Sir J. Bow- 
x-ing, who negotiated it. — ^Numerous cases of 
piracy. — The population numbers 76,600. 

1856. — Armed attack on Messrs. Jardine & 
o*s house. — The Governor insists on the 
r-OAvn lessees building on their plots. — ^Numer- 
is deserters from the British ranks, who take 

fuge on board American whalers. — In the 

<:>xarse of the year, the post of Surveyor 
neral is occupied by three different per- 
is : the sums appropriated to Public Works 
jrrTLOunt to ^^9,247. 

X S57. — Numerous vessels surprised, plun- 
^^ar^ci, and burnt by Chinese pirates: from 
s^ November 1856 to 15th January 1857, 
cases of piracy. — Attempts made to 
^on the Europeans e7i masse, at the insti- 
aon, It is said, of Chinese officials at 
tron.— These officials send orders to all 
-pse residents of Hong-Kong to leave 
island ; the total population then having 
o 77,000 persons, of whom 75,500 



were Chinese, and 1,500 Europeans. These 
numbers include 2,000 Chinese, and 500 
European women. — ** Praga Reclamation '' 
works continued ; progress made with docks. — 
Wide-spread conspiracy formed at Canton 
to ruin Hong-Kong by means of theft, mur- 
der, and incendiarism. — Innumerable cases 
of piracy by sea and land. — War with 
Canton : capture of Canton ; measures adop- 
ted at Hong-Kong as a protection against 
the native population. 

185 8 . — A Chinaman, (Wong Ashing by name) 
serves on a jury, for the first time on record. 
Government sets a price on pirates' heads. — 
Numbers of Chinese leave Hong-Kong, fearing 
that their families (which they do not bring 
with them) will be massacred by the " Braves '' 
of Canton. Great commotion amongst the 
Europeans : no more servants, no market ; 
meeting at Mr. Jardine's house. — In August, 
the Attorney General, Mr. Chisholm, suspended 
from his duties. — Innumerable cases of piracy : 
first expedition; a fleet of junks, some carry- 
ing from 12 to 18 guns, destroyed ; a second 
expedition, and a third, necessitated by the 
fact that the war with Canton is scarcely 
ended. — Population of whites (Europeans and 
Americans), excluding troops : i ,462 ; number 
of deaths among this population during the 
year 1858: no, or at the rate of 7.50 



1859. — Two Europeans publicly executed 


for the murder of a boy. — Expedition against 
pirates. — In May, Sir Hercules Robinson 
succeeds Sir J. Bowring as Governor. — 
Further development of the coolie trans- 
port. — Hong-Kong not in favour with the 
British public. — In July, defeat of British 
troops at the mouth of the Peiho ; serious 
apprehensions at Hong-Kong ; no disturbance 
amongst the native population. — Numerous 
cases of piracy and theft. — Several actions 
brought against the press for libel. — New 
public market opened. — Docks constructed 
at Aberdeen by private enterprise. — The 
population of white civilians reduced to 
1,031 persons, and the deaths to 70, or 
6.66 °/o. 

i860. — The new organisation of the customs 
in China by European officials, and their 
admirable workings which prevents smuggling, 
excites great discontent at Hong-Kong. — 
Difficulties regarding salaries of officials: 
they are paid in Mexican dollars reckoned 
to them at the rate of 4 shillings and 2 
pence, though purchased [by Government] 
at five shillings and a half-penny. The estab- 
lishment of a mint at Hong-Kong is deman- 
ded. — Anglo-French war with China. 

1 86 1. — Occupation of the Peninsula of 
Kowloon; great conference of the various 
authorities, the Governor, Admiral and Gene- 
ral, as to the occupation of the portion 


capable of immediate utilisation, situated 
along the sea-front. — Police organisation very 
defective : natives requisitioned from Bom- 
bay. — The population numbers I04,CXX), of 
\yrhom 73,000 are housed in dwellings and 
31,000 in boats. In i860, the population 
of white civilians was 1,592; deaths: 51, or 
32.0%. In i860, this population is reduced 
to 1,558, and the death-rate rises again to 
loi, or 6.48 %. 

1862. — Formation of a volunteer corps. — 
28th February, proclamation prohibiting the 
export of arms. — Extensive fraud in opium 
warrants; a Parsee, by name Rustomjee, in 
league with the captain of the receiving 
ship Tropic^ negotiates counterfeit warrants 
on which he obtains a loan of 1,500,000 
dollars. — The Branch of the Royal Asiatic 
Society is dissolved ; its library is distributed 
among various institutions. — For the first 
time, the post-office issues postage-stamps 
for letters. — Salaries are considerably raised : 
a servant earns from 21 to 63 shillings a 
month ; a porter, two shillings and six pence 
a day. In i860, a servant earned on an 
average 25 shillings, a porter from i shilling 
to I shilling and 10 pence. — 25th June, 
prohibition to export arms rescinded. — 
Water-works nearly completed; they will 
have entailed a large expenditure. — There is 
a talk of lighting the town, and the side of 


the hill, with gas. — In the course of the 
year, cotton, being no longer procurable from 
America, is partly obtained from Northern 
China. The quantity which passes into Hong- 
Kong amounts to 45 millions of kilogrammes 
(in round numbers, about 9,920,000 lbs. avoir- 
dupois). — Population of European civilians, 
1,604; deaths, 46, or 2.247^0. 

1863. — The Clock Tower inaugurated. — 
The Whampoa Docks opened; the steamer 
Cadiz belonging to the Peninsular and 
Oriental Company is docked there for 
repairs. — The streets are lighted with gas- 

1864. — Attack of pirates on a Danish 
brig anchored in the roadstead ; fresh attack 
on the godowns of Messrs. Smith, Archer 
& Co. The Oriental Hotel Company opens 
a first-class hotel. — The Mint is erected at 
Causeway Bay, on a ** reclaimed" plot of 
ground. — Proclamation of the Bankruptcy 
Act. — During the hearing of a law-suit, the 
court rules that it is lawful for a policeman 
to carry and to make use of fire-arms. — 
The Home Government demands that the 
colony should contribute a sum of ^^20,000 
towards the military expenses (which amount 
to ;^ 100,000). This necessitates a tax yield- 
ing a corresponding amount. Considerable 
opposition in the Council. Debate of 8th 
September; motion in favour of the contri- 


bution carried by the casting vote of the 
Governor ; but a petition signed by the 
Europeans and Chinese is forwarded to the 
Home Government, praying for its remission. — 
Conflicts occur between the soldiers of the 
99th regiment and the police. — Numerous 
murders. — Sale at Kowloon of plots of ground, 
on one of which docks are to be constructed. 
1865. — Sailors' Home, West Point, inaugu- 
rated (19th January); Messrs. Jardine and 
Matheson had subscribed 45,000 dollars 
towards it. — The Chinese attack two river 
steamers. — Recrudescence of crime, owing, 
it is averred, to too much laxity in repres- 
sive measures. Thieves break into the Ceu- 
tral Bank of Western India gaining entrance 
thereto by a subterranean passage which 
leads from the sewers to the strong-room. — 
Business extremely dull. — Besides the mer- 
chant princes, British merchants of moderate 
means begin to put in an appearance ; the 
Chinese are comprador es ^ retail dealers, bro- 
kers, and, above all, coolies. — Dwellings still 
very dear : a house letting in England at 
^40 a year, at Hong-Kong fetches 60 dol- 
lars a month. — Public health improving, for 
which, according to the press, no thanks 
are due to the Government. — Great increase 
in theft and murders : every Chinaman out- 
of-doors between 8 o'clock in the evening 
and gun-fire in the morning is obliged to 



provide himself with a pass and a lantern. — 
The 15th April, 17 pirates sent to be tried 
at Canton. — A false report is spread of the 
death at Colombo of Sir Hercules Robinson. — 
Two rival Companies, Russell, and Heard 
& Co., undertake the service between Hong- 
Kong and Canton. — Constant changes of 
officials. — A Company is formed (15th June) 
to construct a railroad in China from Fatshan 
to Canton, 1 2 miles long. — A terrific typhoon 
on 30th June. — First steamer built at Hong- 
Kong, the City of Hoe^ is launched. — 
Very considerable and very frequent fires. — 
A third Navigation Company is formed. The 
Canton and Macao Steamboats Company. — 
The Public and Family Hotel Company is 
started. — The population numbers 125,000, 
of whom, at the commencement of the year, 
1,550 were Europeans: 1,100 men and 454 
women. — There are 6,550 buildings ; of these 
Europeans, Americans, and natives of Manilla 
and Goa, numbering 3,550, occupy 1,300; 
and 80,000 Chinese occupy 4;700. — From a 
sanitary point of view, the most deadly 
year for ten years. The civil population 
falls from 1,963 in 1864 to 1,034; the deaths 
almost as numerous, 100 instead of 109 in 
1864, or over 10 % instead of 4.89 Vo. 

In spite of all, 1865 is the year with 
which, as regards Hong-Kong, the era of 
beginnings closes. Doubtless it still has be- 


fore it periods of difficulty and even moments 
of anxiety : but for the future it is well pro- 
vided with everything needful ; it has stood 
the test; it has self-confidence; and antici- 
pating success, is bound to achieve it. 

Nevertheless, we have seen that the grounds 
on which the founders of Hong-Kong based 
their prophecies of its prosperous future 
were fallacious, and that their first calcu- 
lations proved erroneous. We have still to 
see how it has achieved success; what for- 
tuitous circumstances have contributed to 
this achievement; how it has, so to speak, 
laid hold of success ; and, lastly, by what 
means it has retained its hold upon it. 


Development and prosperity of Hong-Kong — Decisive 

Founding a colony is like building a house. 
From the very first, great activity prevails. 
Capital is accumulated; workmen and mate- 
rials arrive in constant succession ; the owners 
appear in rotation to inspect, supervise, and 
hurry on the workmen. The building emer- 
ges from the ground, the stories rise one 
above the other ; ere long the flag flies from 
the house-top. — And now the building only 
awaits tenants. If tenants are not forthcom- 
ing, the public which had admired the work 
from the first, and envied its promoters, at 
once turns round, and instead of antici- 
pating its success, now prophesies its failure. 
Henceforth every room, even to the top- 
most garret, must be let before the public 
can be brought back to its former opinion, 
and even then the public will always view 
it with a certain amount of mistrust. 



The same holds good with regard to a recent- 
ly-acquired colony. The colonists arrive full 
of haste and ardour; they settle down, and 
procure the ' plant f they bring from the 
metropolis all sorts of products intended 
for their personal use or for their business ; 
the entries booked at the custom-house are 
splendid; statistics prove that there is a 
flourishing trade. Soon the premises are 
complete, the * plant * is in full working order, 
clients only are looked for. If clients are 
not forthcoming, business decreases, statis- 
tics show a falling off, a town which had 
already been considered as too confined in 
area becomes a waste, discouragement weighs 
down the settlers' spirits; and public opi- 
nion now condemns what it had previously 

Then follows a period of silence : the 
colony is believed to be dead. It is, how- 
ever, only slumbering and working quietly 
the while. And now it is simply a ques- 
tion of time. 

A few years elapse , and with the arrival 
of new hands^ fresh vigour replaces worn- 
out energy. Life is infused into it and by 
degrees the dying city is reanimated. A 
prosperous season will rouse it from its 
torpor; it will essay, and gradually develop 
its strength, and will afford to the astonished 
world a proof of its vitality, and its prosperity. 


These phases of existence are, one and 
all, applicable to the colony of Hong-Kong. 
It makes a triumphant start. Colonists arrive 
in troops; the Chinese flock to it; from the 
second year of its foundation, the British 
exports exceed ;^7 20,000; in 1844 they 
reach ;^ 1,800,000; in 1845 they still amount to 
^1,5 20,000 ; in 1 846 they fall to ^ i , 200,000 ; 
in 1847 to as low as ;^76o,ooo, and con- 
tinue to decline gradually, year by year, at 
the rate of ^80,000, ^40,000, some ^4,000 
until in 1853 they amount to only;^36o,ooo. 
The colonists are disheartened, the Chinese 
waver, the finances collapse; in fact nothing 
is wanting to complete the picture. 

At this point in its career public opinion 
prophesies ruin for the colony. The criti- 
cisms of the English press are very severe ; 
the Government regrets its occupation ; there 
is even talk of withdrawal. This state of 
of affairs lasts years. In 1863, i, e.^ more 
than 20 years after its first occupation, the 
British exports still do not exceed;^ 1,480,000 
and the colony is a heavy burden on the 
Treasury. And yet, those who carefully 
followed the course of events in the Far 
East, and knew the actual condition of Hong- 
Kong, were aware from as for back as 1850 
that its cause was already won and its 
future secure. It was only biding its 
time. Fortune which never deserts the bold 


and the obstinate gave it that opportunity 
by the discovery of gold in CaHfornia, and 
in Australia. 

The Chinese, generally speaking, lack what 
we call patriotism. In 1844, they refused 
their services to the French vessels lying 
in the Hong-Kong harbour, and their action 
meeting with determined disapproval from 
the English, with the usual bluster which 
constitutes their strength, they struck work 
almost to a man. In 1850, however, their 
feelings were less delicate. The British had 
attacked and beaten them in 1842: and 
had besieged and taken Canton in 1 847 : 
but the people of Qu^ng-Tung and Fu-Kiang 
came none the less to proffer their services 
to their conquerors of yesterday. When, in 
1849, they heard that the British at Hong- 
Kong were endeavouring to procure their 
admission into America with a view to their 
working in the gold mines (a lucrative occu- 
pation), they came in their thousands, and 
thus aided in establishing at Hong-Kong a 
very profitable industry: viz., the transpor- 
tation of emigrants. 

This was what the English call a " turning 
point.'' Only yesterday, the colony was 
languishing and uncertain of the morrow; 
to-day, it finds, at length, an object on which 
it can expend its energy : it is saved. 

The transport of coolies, i, ^., of men fit 


for any kind of work, rapidly attained to 
great importance. There had, already, for 
some time past, been a tide of emigration — 
though a feeble one — towards Singapore, 
Peru, and the Antilles; now this tide was 
to flow with a stronger current in another 
direction. California, cut off from the other 
states of the Union by the vast American 
continent, welcomed immigrants from all 
parts, and in proportion to the number of 
new-comers discovered new territories, and 
especially new mines, to be worked. For 
similar reasons Australia, being more isolated 
and less populous, desired a still larger influx 
of people. Thus there was a constantly 
recurring demand for labour. The Chinese 
responded to this demand by a constantly 
increasing offer of labourers. There are 
no people that more readily accommodate 
themselves to the idea of expatriation, though 
it be but temporary. All climates suit them, 
they are satisfied with any position. When 
once they know whither they are going and 
what awaits them on their arrival they offer 
themselves in serried ranks. They have, 
moreover, furnished an enormous contingent 
to all countries willing to receive them, and 
as long as these countries have wished it : 
to California, the Antilles, Australia, Singa- 
pore, Saigon, the Philippine Isles, Panama, etc. 
Under these circumstances, in two or three 


years' time, emigrants became very nume- 
rous : Hong-Kong being the only port in the 
neighbourhood which at that time possessed 
an almost complete equipment for this class 
of transport, naturally became their port 
of embarcation. Some embarrassment was, 
nevertheless, experienced just at first. Thou- 
sands of passengers had to be conveyed 
every year for thousands of miles. In 1851, 
8,000; in 1852, 30,000; in 1853, 9,000 all to 
California; in 1854, over 15,000: 10,500 of 
them to Australia, and 3,000 to California; 
from 1852 to 1857, over 24,000 to Havana 
alone; in 1858, about 14,000 to various 
destinations. The voyages lasted on an ave- 
rage three months ; the accommodation of the 
vessels was rather limited, and the rates of 
transport were extravagantly high. A ves- 
sel with accommodation for some hundreds of 
passengers received 90,000 dollars for a 
single trip to San Francisco- Although this 
was an exceptional rate, the transport of 
coolies was, as a rule, an extremely prof- 
itable business. 

Unfortunately, it speedily declined. The 
rapacity of the contractors, and the cruelty 
of their agents could only be compared to 
that of slave-dealers. The coolies were 
crowded into a narrow space, which soon 
became a hot-bed of infection; they were 
left there nearly starving, and absolutely 


uncared-for ; the mortality was appalling ; of 
24,000 conveyed to Havana, 3,500 died in 
transit, or rather over 14 %. This is equal 
to the death-rate of the worst type of 
slavers. The coolies mutinied, seized the 
vessels, and massacred the crews. These 
scandals which were at their height about 
the year 1857, roused the indignation of the 
British who, officially, are very humane. 
They did not go to the length of prohibi- 
ting the transport of coolies : that would 
merely have benefited Macao, where this 
industry was carried on on an enormous scale 
and under still more deplorable conditions. 
But they instituted a more rigorous super- 
vision, they imposed certain regulations in 
regard to sanitation and humane treatment, 
which were increased in stringency from 
time to time, with the result that Chinese 
emigration improved in condition, but dimi- 
nished in extent year by year. ^ The num- 
ber of emigrants in i860 only amounted to 
12,800; in 1862, to 10,400; in 1862, to 

' See House of Commons 27th July, 1858, and 12th 
June, 1868, documents Nos. 381 and 428. Still, though 
closely watched, put to expenses which were unknown 
when it started, shut out from Canada, the United 
States, and Australia, Chinese emigration has none the 
less continued to our day. It peoples Singapore, 
Manilla, etc. In 1882, the number of emigrants sailing 
from Hong-Kong alone reached 79,000; in 1883,57,000; 
1884, 46,000. 


7,800 ; in 1864, to 6,600; in 1865, to 6,850; 
and in 1866 to only 5,000. It was, however, 
destined to flourish anew at a later period. 

But from the year 1857 Hong-Kong was 
no longer entirely dependent upon the trans- 
port industry: events had recently occurred 
which, although altogether unforeseen — on 
this we must lay special stress, — justified 
the predictions of the founders of the colony ; 
it became the necessary refuge of the Euro- 
peans and of the principal Chinese mer- 
chants of Canton, Amoy, etc.: the Taiping 
rebellion was spreading to Quang-Tung. 

The chief of the Taipings was a native 
of Quang-Si, and it was at that place, and 
especially in the neighbouring province of 
Quang-Tung, that he had recruited his first 
adherents. In 1850, a state of uneasiness 
and disquietude greatly prejudicial to trade 
was already noticeable. In 1852 and 1853, 
this feeling became more pronounced : Amoy 
and then Shanghai succumbed to the rebel for- 
ces. In 1854, disturbances broke out through- 
out the entire province; rebellion reigned 
supreme; the ** Braves " of Canton and the 
peasants living in the neighbourhood march- 
ed their formidable bands in all directions, 
and it is estimated that almost a third of 
the population of Canton fled at the ap- 
proach of the rioters. And so the Chinese 
began to arrive at Hong-Kong, at first in 


isolated groups, then in large contingents. ' 
Finally, in 1856, the European factories 
were menaced, the regular authorities who 
still retained the mastery in Canton took 
no measures to restore order, the British 
fleet had to besiege and bombard the town; 
Macao was reduced to a state of starvation, 
and last of all (December 1856) the Euro- 
pean factories were burnt. 

Hereupon a general exodus took place. 
European refugees of all nationalities and 
thousands of Chinese betook themselves to 
Hong-Kong. They came, as from the first 
it was hoped they would come, to seek 
under the British flag the security indispen- 

* These sudden additions to the population of Hong- 
Kong occasioned veritable crises, in the sense that this 
word is used in medical science, and in political econ- 
omy. During the year 1855 there had been an influx 
of close upon 17,000 fresh inhabitants; and owing to 
this fact, the price of building plots, the rent of houses, 
the receipts from taxes, the police expenditure, all 
showed a remarkable increase. In 1856, the population 
remained stationary, if indeed it did not decrease 
(approximate number 72,000, as in 1855); the receipts 
diminished immediately, being ;f32,5oo as against 
^^42,500 in 1855: the expenditure, on the contrary, 
increased, it having been found necessary to augment 
the police-force, involving an extra outlay of ;f 1,950 ; 
and the civil budget amounted to ;f42,45o, as against 
;^40,840 in 1855. In order to continue the public 
works which had been undertaken, the reserve-fund of 
the preceding years had to be drawn upon. In spite 
of this, however, confidence in the future of the colony 
remained unshaken. 


sable to commerce ; they brought their cap- 
ital and such goods as they had rescued; 
and lastly many brought with them — what 
was likely to prove of more lasting effect — 
their families. The town — another change — 
became inconveniently crowded ; the houses 
were all full ; shops were converted into 
more or less commodious dwellings ; and the 
Chinese found accommodation in the junks. 
The income derived from house property 
rose enormously, and the rent charged for 
building-plots w^as exorbitant. 

The year 1858 witnessed a continuation, 
and even an increase, of this prosperity. 
The Peiho expedition necessarily brought a 
crowd of guests to Hong-Kong; the naval 
and military requirements doubled the amount 
of import ; all the new-comers, especially 
those from Europe, left a large sum of mo- 
ney on the market. It was one of those 
occasions when money is spent without keep- 
ing account. This continued in 1859, and 
was still more pronounced in i860. It was 
after the conclusion of the first Treaty of 
Tientsin, and during the preparations for 
the second expedition. Numerous newly 
arrived troops, a whole fleet and many staffs 
filled the roadstead and the town. All avail- 
able sites were occupied : negotiations were 
being entered upon with the Viceroy of 
Canton for the free disposal of Kowloon. 


Finally, the victory of the Allies, and the 
second Treaty of Tientsin filled all hearts 
with enthusiasm and confidence. Under the 
influence of these events, British exports 
rose, in 1857, to £720^000] in 1858, they 
reached ;^ 1,1 20,000; in 1859, ;^ 1,960,000; 
in i860, ^2,440,000 and in 1863, were still 
at ;^ 1, 480,000. 

The official documents of this epoch give 
evidence, moreover, of the joy that was felt, 
and the expectations that were entertained. 
In the Blue Book of 1858 (which appeared 
in 1859, the Governor, Mr Mercer, speaks 
of nothing but the enterprising spirit which 
animates the colony. Public markets had 
just been inaugurated; docks constructed at 
Aberdeen with private capital and without 
any subsidy from the Government; the Chi- 
nese were flocking to the place, happy to 
find on British territory security and justice 
for their persons and their property. And 
the enthusiasm continues ; the strangers, 
guests of the new colony, share it equally 
with the residents. ^^ Hong-Kong,*' writes 
the French Consul in 1863, *^ thanks to its 
geographical position ; to its roadstead, which 
can accommodate and give shelter to an 
immense number of vessels ; to the security 
and freedom with which business can be 
transacted; to the absence of any import- 
duty ; to the steam-communications of which 


it is the centre; and to the comparative 
salubrity of its climate, has become the 
head-quarters of a considerable traffic, and 
the emporium of Southern China not only 
for the products of Europe, America and 
India, but also for those of China itself.'* 

From this time forward the future of 
Hong-Kong was assured, and we need not 
now follow step by step its further progress. 
Let us confine ourselves to noticing the 
chief, and the later episodes of its economic 

A law of mechanics tells us that every 
action is followed by a reaction in a con- 
trary direction and of equal strength. The 
same holds good with regard to business : 
the whole of the ground gained is not lost 
by such reactions, otherwise progress were 
impossible ; but every period of activity is 
followed by a period of stagnation. Hong- 
Kong could not avoid the operation of this 
law. The years 1864 to 1868 were deplor- 
able, not to say disastrous. 

It must be admitted that after the pro- 
gress alluded to above the colony and, indeed, 
the whole of European China had been seiz- 
ed with a species of madness. The Ame- 
rican War had made China, and especially 
India, purveyors of cotton to the whole 
world; there had consequently been a per- 
petual exchange of goods and of paper 


between these countries and Europe. Hong- 
Kong being on the direct route had been 
able to accumulate at its port immense 
quantities of cotton, tea, and other colonial 
produce ; the Parsees of India brought thither 
considerable sums of money with a view 
to commercial intercourse with Indo-China 
and the Chinese empire. More banks were 
opened than were needed. In 1862 and 
1863, Hong-Kong and Shanghai could boast 
of five banks; in 1864, their number was 
eleven ; and unlimited competition was the 

Thus the years 1865, 1866, and even 
1 867 were notable for the financial catastro- 
phes which occurred either at Hong-Kong 
itself or in China, but which invariably reac- 
ted upon the business of Hong-Kong. Impru- 
dent and unfortunate speculations in tea, and 
in landed property, in the Yang-Tse Valley 
and at Shanghai, swallowed up nearly 
;^ 6,000,000, in which speculations Hong- 
Kong itself was largely involved ; the rice- 
trade with Indo-China (Siam and Saigon) 
was fettered by a bad harvest ; the opium 
trade remained dull ; the colony, pressed for 
money, — the Home Government justly deman- 
ding a contribution of ;^20,ooo towards the 
military expenditure, — resorted to vexatious 
fiscal measures, and taxed either the natives 
or business transactions (an ad valorem duty 


of \ or i % on bills of exchange, drafts to 
order, and bank bills payable to bearer, or 
at sight) ; lastly, to crown all, the American 
war having come to an end, there was an 
immediate cessation of the cotton-trade. 
The settlement was a grievous one : nume- 
rous failures ; first-class houses compelled to 
suspend payment ; the Chinese leaving in 

This continued throughout the year 1867, 
and even into 1 868 ; the colony was exhaus- 
ted and disheartened and — a characteristic 
sign — people began again, in order to reas- 
sure themselves, to talk of the natural advan- 
tages of Hong-Kong, of *' its admirable posi- 
tion which ought to make it the fountain-head 
of commerce with China and Japan,'' when — 
another surprise, a further turn of Fortune's 
wheel so lavish in her favours towards this 
colony — an event occurred which assuredly 
could not have been foreseen by the foun- 
ders of the colony : the Suez Canal was 
opened, superseding the long voyage round 
the Cape, placing Hong-Kong within a 
month's journey of Europe, and giving an 
irresistible impulse to exchange with the 
Far East. 

This time, all doubts are dispelled: Hong- 
Kong will survive ; Hong-Kong will be rich 
and powerful. It will, like the rest of the 
commercial world, still have its ups and 


downs ; mistakes will still occur^ it will spec- 
ulate to excess in building-sites, as it did 
in 1882 and 1883; it will suffer from the 
reaction of external events, such as the 
Franco-Chinese war of 1884; it will launch 
out into hazardous enterprises, such as the 
Praga reclamation ; it will see the value of 
land, even that of the Peak, the most ex- 
pensive and favourite quarter, fall to 24 
cents the square foot; but henceforth it is 
armed for the struggle, its future is secure. 
We have still to determine what portion 
of this success, which has, apparently, so 
far, been due to chance alone, may be cre- 
dited to human agency. 


Methods of Government and Administration — The 
Chinese — Security, Justice^ and Education. 

In establishing themselves at Hong-Kong 
the British should have been, and in fact 
v^ere, aware that their success depended 
mainly on the attainment of one thing, viz. : 
the co-operation of the Chinese inhabitants 
of the mainland, and not so much of the 
authorities^ though it was not a matter of 
indifference whether the latter were for or 
against them, ' as of the trades-people, the 

* The British endeavoured to maintain the best pos- 
sible relations with the authorities of Canton. This, 
unfortunately, has not always been an easy matter. 
After the conclusion of the Treaty of Nankin, there 
was a prolonged contention with reference to the re- 
opening of Canton ; then followed the Taiping rebellion ; 
and later, the expeditions against Pekin. In order to 
establish on a cordial footing the relations between 
Hong-Kong and China, our reverses of 1870, and above 
all our war with China of 1 884 were necessary, although 
the connection may not be evident. At the present 
day, the Chinese authorities readily visit the colony ; the 
two powers mutually surrender, (with certain exceptions), 
criminals claimed by their respective courts, etc. 


cornpr adores^ and the coolies. Coolies were 
required as workmen, trades-people to supply 
them with provisions, compradores to intro- 
duce the British to the native markets and 
to act as intermediaries in their business 
transactions, pending the advent of those 
substantial Chinese merchants who, by vir- 
tue of their ability, daring, and honesty, take 
rank in the commercial world as the most 
formidable rivals of the Anglo Saxons. If 
these various classes were not simultaneously 
forthcoming and in sufficient numbers, the 
colony would be incapable of acting the 
part to which it aspired : that of intermedi- 
ary between Europe and China. 

Of this point the Europeans were well 
aware. Far from dreading the presence of 
the Chinese, they were anxious that respect- 
able Chinese citizens should come in num- 
bers and settle amongst them ; and we have 
seen that, in the earlier years of the colony, 
they petitioned the Governor to grant cer- 
tain concessions to those Chinese immigrants 
who might settle on the island, as an induce- 
ment for them to come. 

And the Chinese who, as universal expe- 
rience proves, are easily attracted, at once 
flocked to the island. Unfortunately, the 
first to come were not exactly the class of 
people needed, and their presence, though 
useful in more than one respect, entailed 


manifold complications of a nature to put 
the wisdom and patience of the British offi- 
cials to the test. 

The provinces which furnish, perhaps, the 
largest contingent of emigrants in the whole 
Empire are precisely those in the immediate 
vicinity of Hong-Kong, viz. : Quang-Tung and 
Fu-Kiang ; but the emigrants from these pro- 
vinces are more often than not anything but 
desirable recruits. They belong to different, 
and hostile races : the Hakkas, who usually 
do coolie-work, and the Puntis * who chiefly 
find employment as boys and cornpradores. 
As a result, quarrels and strife, occasionally 
very serious, and which the European ad- 
ministration cannot view with indifference. 

And besides, all, or nearly all these people 
are poor, uncouth, uneducated, and above 
all, utterly unscrupulous. They crowd round 
the Europeans, because money can be made^ 
but they display no affection ^ or esteem, 
and remain strangers to their civilisation. 
They have no notion of cleanliness or hygiene, 

'"Punti" really signifies "native of the country." It 
is therefore a misnomer to use the word as a distinctive 
appellation for one of the native races. 

* " At Hong-Kong where 30,000 Chinese are regularly 
employed, they would not hesitate, at a given signal, 
to massacre all the Europeans." (Extract from an offi- 
cial report of 1874). "It is rather the European com- 
munity wich is in need of protection." (*Her Majesty's 
Colonies,* p. 460). 


and a positive repugnance to sanitary regu- 
lations and besides an immoderate passion 
for gambling coupled to deplorable morals 
due especially to the absence of their fami- 
lies. They despise woman, whom they doom 
and bring up to a life of prostitution, using 
compulsion, if necessary, and lastly they 
evince a peculiar liking for secret societies. 
All these habits and vices, not to be tole- 
rated by a European Government, afford, 
when placed in juxtaposition with the neces- 
sity of attracting many Chinese to Hong- 
Kong, some idea of the difficulties with which 
the British had to contend. 

They overcame them, however, and it will 
not be unprofitable to learn how they con- 
trived to reconcile interests and needs so 
diametrically the opposite. 

Just at first, it was advisable not to be 
too particular. Workmen were wanted to 
build the town, to cut roads, to excavate 
zigzags on the hillside, to work at the quays : 
so the gates were thrown wide open, and 
the imperfections of those who entered in 
were overlooked. Nay, more; inducements 
were held out to new-comers, attentions to 
which they could not be insensible : to those 
who lived on their house-boats Causeway 
Bay was offered as a refuge affording all 
possible security against stormy weather^ and 
what was greatly to the liking of those who 


settled on land, a separate quarter was 
assigned to them. 

But, though their advent was greatly to 
be desired, supervision could not be neglec- 
ted. The organisation of the police has been 
one of the first and most lasting difficulties 
which the local government has had to con- 
tend with. The problem is more complica- 
ted than appears at first sight. Europeans 
are costly; their health soon gives way, and 
Chinese customs are unknown to them ; 
Chinamen^ on the other hand, though more 
suitable, are liable to be too lenient towards, 
if not actual accomplices of, criminals ; and 
it is to be feared, moreover, that in the 
exercise of their power, all sense of respect, 
even towards Europeans, might desert them ; 
Indians, being hardier than Europeans, by 
disposition more respectful than the Chinese, 
and being well used to discipline, are capa- 
ble of rendering good service, though they 
are wanting in tact, and require to be well 
officered. None of these three elements, 
then, was suitable, taken singly, so that an 
amalgamation of the three was resolved on. 
Their number and proportion have, of course, 
varied with the course of time. In i860, 
or thereabouts, the relative numbers were, 
60 Europeans, 100 to no Chinese and 
some 300 Indians. In 1887 the force con- 
tained 100 Europeans, 200 Sikhs, and 400 


Chinese. The large proportion of Chinese 
noticeable during late years indicates the 
progress made, and the increased confidence 
they command. One detail must, however, 
be mentioned : Chinese policemen are re- 
quired to furnish security to the amount of 
fifty dollars each. 

In an island, especially one so near a 
mainland which affords so safe a refuge, 
the robbers are not all on land. At Hong- 
Kong there is a floating population — a fact 
which we can appropriately mention here — 
of 30^000 or 40,000 persons who have no 
other habitation than their boats. All along 
the sea-shore are well-stocked warehouses, 
and docks full of merchandise ; in the middle 
of the roadstead ships laden with cargo lie 
at anchor; the port is free, but opium is 
farmed out, and an import-duty is levied on 
alcohol : these are circumstances, therefore, 
very tempting to thieves and smugglers. 
And so, of a police-force numbering 750 
men, about 300 do duty on the water, 
patrolling the harbour in their swift police- 
boats, and maintaining a constant watch, 
especially at night. 

In addition to thieves and smugglers, there 
are pirates. Those of Hong-Kong have 
gained notoriety. The natural conditions of 
these parts and the course of events favoured 
them greatly. Islands, so well adapted to 


their requirements that they received the 
name of the Ladrones^ and indented with 
shallow creeks, where light craft could lie 
in ambuscade or find a refuge were near at 
hand; and the coast of the mainland was 
broken up into an infinitude of inlets, and 
abounded in shelters. The inhabitants were 
natural accomplices of the bandits, sharing 
with them their hate for, and occasionally 
the spoils of, the Europeans; the authori- 
ties, from the humblest to the highest, 
detested the British, and lent themselves 
with evident repugnance to the watching 
and suppression of pirates. Lastly, on two 
occasions, just after the opium war (1842 
to 1844), and later, during the period of 
the Anglo-French expeditions (1857 to i860), 
occurred the possibility of passing off acts 
of mere brigandage as acts of pure patriot- 
ism. All these circumstances were favour- 
able to the growth of piracy on a large 

Accordingly it developed to an unheard- 
of extent in the seas surrounding Hong- 
Kong. Of this we have already given some 
idea in a preceding chapter. The junks 
engaged in these operations might be coun- 
ted by thousands. It even went so far that 
the pirates actually scoured the seas in fleets, 
no attempt being made at concealment. 
They carried a number of guns, and even 


attacked steamers ; the Spark episode 
(1874) is still well remembered. It was often 
found necessary, and notably in 1868, to 
adopt special measures, and positively to 
organise expeditions against them. The 
happiest possible results attended these. 
The systematic destruction of innumerable 
junks acted as a check on the pirate's trade. 

At the present day, owing to the devel- 
opment of national and international com- 
merce, the habit of regular occupation, acts 
as a restraint on a host of people who, 
twenty years since, were predestined to a 
pirate's life. At the same time, the Chinese 
Mandarins have changed their views : far 
from protecting bandits, they wage a war 
with them which might be characterised as 
envenomed, were the agents entrusted with 
its conduct, only more able, or less indul- 
gent. Lastly, gun-boats and war vessels 
specially deputed to this service are con- 
stantly cruising in suspected localities. 

In spite of this^ piracy has not entirely 
disappeared from the waters of Hong-Kong. 
Pirates still infest the coasts of Quang-Tung. 
In October 1885, the Greyhound^ a British 
steamer, was seized, when sixty miles distant 
from Hong-Kong, by pirates who had taken 
passage in her. Even the port of Victoria 
is not always free from them. In December 
1887, three singularly bold attacks occurred 


in a single week. In 1890, the Namoa 
incident created a profound sensation through- 
out the Far-East. * It is evident that, to 
extirpate piracy thoroughly, combined action 
on the part of the British, French, and 
Chinese is necessary. 

These repressive measures ought, appa- 
rently, if only on the ground of their effi- 
cacy, to have had a diametrically opposite 
result to that which the British desired. If 
they were intent upon attracting the Chinese, 
concerning whose morality one must, as they 
knew, not be too particular, it was a singu- 
lar means of attaining their end: that of 
subjecting them to the most rigorous super- 
vision^ and mercilessly hunting down their 
fellow-countrymen. But this line of argu- 
ment, though apparently correct^ in reality 
is not so. 

The Chinese entertain, in a degree unknown 

* The Namoa left Hong-Kong on the loth December 
1890, having on board 220 Chinese deck passengers. 
They were emigrants returning to China with the savings 
they had accumulated at Singapore. At a given signal, 
some fifty of them, clothed in a kind of uniform, rushed 
upon the crew and the ship's officers, wounded them 
and seized the vessel and everything of value which it 
contained. They were pursued; but it was not until 
later that the Chinese admiral Tong discovered their 
whereabouts, and took them prisoners. (See some 
curious articles on piracy written in 1890 by the Ame- 
rican, Colonel Guilder, correspondent of the San Fran- 
cisco Examiner during the Franco-Chinese war). 


to US, a respect, nay^ an admiration, for 
force. This feeling is so strong with them, 
that at times it gets the better of their love 
of justice. Concessions, even though they 
be just^ run the risk of being regarded by 
them as weakness; the toleration of cul- 
pable acts, as nonsense. On the other hand, 
the Chinese colony at Hong-Kong was com- 
posed of the most diverse elements. In 
addition to cut-throats and thieves, the objects 
of these precautions, there were Chinamen 
who were rich or well-off — a class likely to 
rapidly increase — to whom these very pre- 
cautions gave confidence; there were poor^ 
and even depraved, Chinese who found it 
more profitable to work than to steal, and 
who regarded these "vexations'* as the 
necessary price of an abundance of work 
and a regular salary; lastly, there were a 
host of, possibly indifferent individuals, but 
who attached inestimable value to certain 
benefits of British civilisation, and to the 
greatest among them, namely, law and 

One must have lived under an autocratic 
and irresponsible regime to appreciate a mode- 
rate and just one. The Chinese, at the hands 
of their Mandarins^ had been able^ at that 
period even more than at the present day, 
to learn to appreciate the protection accor- 
ded them by British law and magistracy. 


Let US pay this tribute to the Anglo-Saxons : 
no people has a greater regard than they 
for conformity to law. Other nations pride 
themselves specially on their humanity, and 
their conduct may perhaps in general be 
more humane, which practically constitutes 
an inferiority, though morally an honour. 
But in regard to laws their views are less 
decided. With almost all of them there is 
a fund of Jacobinism which impels them so 
forcibly towards the goal they are aiming 
at that they end by neglecting the legitimacy 
of the means employed. More than one 
decision, whether in the sphere of law or 
of politics, might be brought to light which 
could with difficulty be reconciled with 

The British, on the other hand, have with 
few exceptions, a respect almost amounting 
to a religious belief, for law and justice. 
Their official correspondence shows what a 
dread they have of arbitrary procedure. 
Open, for example, the special reports : they 
consist entirely of rules relating to the 
judicial personnel and their jurisdiction, and 
the application of certain laws to certain 
classes of individuals. One out of every 
two orders has reference to the better 
administration of justice, or to the enactment 
of laws better adapted to their special 


The protection thus afforded is an exceed- 
ingly valuable one, and the majority of the 
Chinese fully appreciated it. The British^ 
moreover, earned for themselves a further 
title, we will not say to their gratitude^ but 
to their obedience. In addition to security, 
and justice, they granted them a benefit^ 
the concession of which was flattering to 
their pride or their ambition^ viz., a sort of 
equality in the eye of the law, and of the 

European nations, the British among them, 
have long thought it their duty, in these 
distant lands, to shield their fellow-country- 
men, in their intercourse with the natives, 
from the vexatious consequences of their 
acts. In India^ in Indo-China, and in all the 
colonies belonging to European nations in 
those latitudes, an offence committed by a 
European against a native is not, and neces- 
sarily cannot be, of the same importance as 
an offence committed by a native against a 
European. At Hong-Kong, however, the 
British on more than one occasion aban- 
doned these pretentions: be a boy killed or 
wounded, or a coolie unmercifully beaten, a 
search was made for the perpetrators of 
such acts, and woe to them if discovered. 
Natives or Europeans, they found no mercy. 

This impartiality which, however, was never 
abused, produced an excellent effect on the 


Chinese; as did also the humanity shown — 
as we have already seen — in the regulations 
for the transport of emigrants. - 

At the same time, care was taken not 
to violate their customs, nor to place any 
restraints upon their civile religious, or other 
ceremonies. And above all, they were affor- 
ded what they very fully appreciate, the 
means of educating themselves. 

A whole chapter would be required to 
explain the educational arrangements at 
Hong-Kong. What is most worthy of admi- 
ration is, the untiring zeal of those in charge 
of this department. The people with whom 
they had to deal belonged to the humblest 
and poorest class ; like all the Chinese, they 
professed great respect for science; but 
they were reluctant to trust their children 
(the girls especially) to schools opened by 
the Government. Add further that these 
children were often indifferent scholars; or 
again^ that their parents, having need of 
them for their daily work, sent them late 
to school, or took them away too early: 
whatever the cause, the fact remains, that 
for a series of years, the results were 
very poor. 

In 1852, with a population of over 37,000, 
of whom 35,000 were Chinese, there were 
only five schools, with a total of 134 pupils, 
for the use of the Chinese; in 1857, the 


number had only risen to 21 with 735 
pupils, of whom 40 were girls, and in the 
same year, (1857) the scholars who had 
completed their course of education at these 
schools could not furnish a single competent 
interpreter. Ever since 185 1, the colony 
had devoted an annual sum of ^^250 towards 
the maintenance of six selected scholars at 
Bishop* s College^ and for six years not one 
of these subsidised scholars had been able 
to render the smallest service as inter- 
preter. From i860 to 1870 the results 
were no better ; the number of schools 
and scholars remained almost stationary ; this 
was, however, the final stage of a fruitless 

In 1876^ the schools numbered 54, the 
scholars 3,100; this number includes 16 
schools^ with 1,800 scholars, conducted by 
natives. In 1887 there were 95 schools 
under inspection, and no private schools; 
the majority being Chinese. Among those 
under inspection, 1 5 belonged to the Govern- 
ment^ and were unsectarian and gratuitous ; 
19 were subsidised Chinese schools, distri- 
buted among the villages on the island ; and 
61, sectarian schools, 55 of them gratuitous, 
belonging to ten Missionary Societies. 

The present number of scholars is about 
8,300, of whom 6000 frequent the inspected, 
and 2,300 the other schools. Three dialects 


of Chinese, as well as English and Portuguese, 
are taught. Besides this, some of the best 
scholars are sent to England to go through 
a course of study in medicine, law, or real 
and applied science. In 1882, one of these 
students, by name Ho-Kai, passed first in 
the examinations at Lincoln's Inn^ and is 
at present a Privy Councillor at Hong-Kong. 
After completing their studies^ they obtain 
on their return to the colony, easy and prof- 
itable employment, either in one of the 
professions, or under Government, provided 
they pass a competitive examination open 
to all British subjects without distinction as 
to race or religion. 

By the adoption of the various measures 
alluded to above, concerning the general 
nature of which it would have been interes- 
ting to enter into further detail, the British 
have succeeded beyond their expectations. 
The Chinese population numbers about 
210,000 souls. Canton lies so near, and the 
journey by steamers, which charge a fare 
of 6d and can carry 3,000 passengers, is so 
easy that this number varies from one sea- 
son to another: if the harvest on the main- 
land is bad, thousands of emigrants flock 
to the island; on the other hand, if there 
is the slightest cause for discontent, thou- 
sands of others quit the island for the 
mainland. In spite of these vicissitudes, the 


Chinese population is continually on the 
increase. * 

It is composed^ as it always has been, of 
coolies, boys^ mariners, retail tradesmen, and 
wholesale merchants, and lastly, of the grad- 
ually diminishing number of intermediaries 
called compradores . A curious circumstance 
to those acquainted with the customs of the 
Far-East is the presence of Chinese women 
in considerable and ever increasing numbers. 
In 1 86 1, there were 26 women to every 
100 men; in 1871, the proportion was 28 
to 100 ; in 1 88 1, 30; in 1 891, 31. It is 
hardly necessary to observe that they are 
not women of the higher classes. 

The class — by far the most numerous — 
of working men (coolies^ mariners, labourers, 
etc.) has been^ and still is, the cause of 
more than one anxiety to the local authori- 
ties. It is surprising that, tractable as they 
are in business matters, they should accom- 

* The attention of the Chinese Government was drawn 
to this, when it proposed, in accordance with the terms 
of the treaties, to appoint a consul at Hong-Kong. The 
Chinese do not need a consul to protect their interests : 
the British law and the Registrar General who is their 
appointed protector, suffice. This consul would either 
be a spy placed by the Chinese Government to keep a 
watch over the more important of his fellow-countrymen, 
or an agent who would incite the more turbulent to 
revolt. The Chinese Government has, however, — of its 
own accord, so says the English press — relinquished 
this idea. 


modate themselves with such difficulty to 
the laws of morality, the police regulations, 
and to habits of cleanliness and hygiene. 

The abduction of children, especially 
young girls, who are sold to houses of ill- 
repute, has many a time occupied the atten- 
tion of the police and the law courts. ' From 
another point of view, whenever certain 
precautions have been enforced in the inte- 
rests of public health, there has been a near 
approach to riots. In this respect, however, 
they appear to be becoming more amenable 
to discipline : for instance, they readily sub- 
mit to vaccination. 

At first a special quarter had been assign- 
ed to them. In this reserved quarter, con- 
tractors had built them houses adapted to 
their customs. The Chinese, as a matter of 
fact, do not require separate and spacious 
rooms such as we use ; they huddle together 
in a narrow space; room sufficient for two 
or three Europeans would suffice for thirty 
or forty Chinese. This promiscuous way of 
living has a fatal effect upon their morals; 
and this agglomeration is equally detrimental 
to their health. It constitutes a real danger 

* See the report of the committee of inquiry deputed 
to investigate this matter at Hong-Kong in 1880, notably 
the document entitled: Correspondence respecting the 
alleged existence of Chinese slavery in Hong-Kong 
(March 1882, C. 3185). 


for public morals and public health. At last, 
owing to the continuous increase in their num- 
bers, the quarter reserved to them became too 
confined, and they overflowed into the Europe- 
an quarter. Naturally^ they imported^ too, their 
mode of living. As this was by no means agree- 
able to the English, a law of 1 889 ordained that 
the Chinese settling in the European quarters 
must conform to European usages. 

We may add that a certain number of 
them have already borrowed from the Euro- 
peans their manners and customs, and also 
share in their riches. 

For many are wealthy; some even im- 
mensely so. The Chinaman has, in fact, at 
Hong-Kong as elsewhere, proved himself to 
be a merchant that has no equal. A*s a 
general rule, he begins in a humble way. 
In his own country, a poor wretch with 
prospects the reverse of encouraging from 
a social point of view, he resolved to emi- 
grate. Landing destitute of everything, he 
engages himself as coolie. Soon the coolie 
becomes a pedlar, then the pedlar opens a 
shop on his own account. He mixes — as 
far as possible — with Europeans; while acting 
as their intermediary he studies their system 
of business ; he makes money, becomes a 
partner in a European firm, and at length, 
by economy and fortunate speculations — for 
nowhere can be found a more determined 


or daring gamester — he is able to become 
the sole proprietor of the business. More 
than one palace of the earlier *' merchant 
princes *' at the present day belongs to him 
alone ; with his capital alone more than one 
large firm exists. But^ being less preten- 
tious and more able than we, he carries on 
the firm in the name under which it attain- 
ed its present prosperity. He lays less 
store on appearances than on the reality of 
his power. He only makes a display at 
home, in the interior of his dwelling, and in 
his mode of living. There we can find him 
with a capacious paunch, sumptuous apparel, 
a delicate palate, and an unrivalled cook. 

The British who see them growing in 
wealth at their side and even surpassing 
them ^ are not, however, astonished or dis- 
quieted thereby. They calculate that with- 
out them — at any rate, so far — the Chinese 
could accomplish nothing, and they enjoy, in 
peace and without any mental reservation, 
the enviable position which they owe to 
their energy, their enterprise, and their 
system of government. 

* In 1876, amongst the largest tax-payers, there were 
12 Europeans (British, American, Portuguese) and 8 
Chinese. The 12 Europeans paid 62,523 dollars; the 
8 Chinese, 28,267 dollars. 

In 1 88 1, the twenty largest tax-payers comprised only 
3 Europeans as against 17 Chinese. The 3 Europeans 
paid 16,038 dollars, and the 17 Chinese, 99,110 dollars. 


Methods of Government and Administration — The 
European Colonists — Population — Hygiene — Health, 

Next to the Chinese, Europeans were to 
be attracted to Hong-Kong, for the Europeans 
were just as indispensable as the Chinese. 
At the outset of this commercial strife, the 
Chinese were to constitute what soldiers 
and fuglemen are to an army; whilst the 
British were to represent the officers and 
Staff. The Chinese supplied the manual 
labour and furnished the primary information 
as to the ways and means to be adopted ; 
and the British brought the capital together 
with critical judgment and energy. 

The commerce of this country had two 
aspects : one looking towards China, the 
other towards Europe. With China the 
British — at least at this epoch — could ac- 
complish little without the Chinese; with 



Europe the Chinese could accomplish nothing 
without the British. And to-day, after 50 
years of mutual contact and tuition, their 
respective positions remain much the same : 
the British cannot yet altogether dispense 
with the Chinese; and the Chinese are well 
aware that without the British they would 
be helpless, unless they undertook a series 
of experiments, so tedious and costly as to 
make them hesitate. 

That it was necessary to attract colonists 
to a colony which had been acquired on 
their behalf, is so self-evident as to be almost 
naive. It is so, however, only in appearance : 
there are numerous colonies which remain 
uncolonised, and the way to attract colonists, 
and better still, to retain them, is one of 
the most complicated and interesting prob- 
lems which can occupy the mind of a 

Here the problem was, perhaps, more 
complex than elsewhere. For the class of 
colonists needed was a select one: men of 
initiative and enterprise, who would doubt- 
less have an eye to profit, but whose pre- 
sent income relieved them of any anxiety 
as to their daily bread. They were to be 
capitalists, or at any rate men backed up 
by capitalists ; men who could take the lead, 
and who would be capable, not indeed of 
competing with the Chinese — that would 



have been a ruinous piece of folly — but of 
utilising them for their own profit. British 
commerce has a plentiful supply of men of 
this stamp, and even at that time there was 
no lack of them. But the notion of drag- 
ging them from Liverpool, Aberdeen, or 
Calcutta, and planting them at Hong-Kong 
was rather a bold one. And its boldness 
becomes all the more apparent when it is 
considered that, as a matter of fact, it was 
not a question of planting them there at 
all. For the European — at least up till 
now — has been unable to perpetuate his 
race in these latitudes. His children are 
with difficulty reared there, and he usually 
makes arrangements for their birth to take 
place in Europe. 

Under these circumstances, the colonist is 
a mere bird of passage. He can scarcely, 
and in fact does not, dream of working or 
founding a business for his children. His 
age on arrival is from 20 to 2 5 , on reaching 
40 or 50, he disposes of his business to 
others, and returns to Europe. And it is 
this bird of passage, with but a limited 
number of years before him, who is expec- 
ted — from whom the very nature of things 
exacts — far-reaching enterprises, long-dated 
engagements, at times even lofty conceptions. 
This was the type of colonist with whom 
it was proposed to people Hong-Kong. The 


idea appears chimerical.* But the more 
compUcated the problem, the more interes- 
ting it becomes, the more praiseworthy 
its solution, and the more profitable its 

The British Government had assuredly 
neither foreseen the problem, nor provided 
for its solution. But when confronted with 
it, it had — a merit of extreme rarity — the 

' The population of Hong-Kong rose, in 1891, to 
221,441 : of whom 210,995 were Chinese, 8,545 Europe- 
ans and Americans including the garrison, and 1,901 
inhabitants- who were neither Europeans nor Chinese. 
In 1 88 1, these various elements numbered respectively:, 
150,690, 7,990, and 1,722. 

Out of the 210,955 Chinese, 126,000 inhabit the town 
of Victoria, the rest live in the country or on their 
boats (especially the latter.) 

The 8,545 Europeans and Americans comprise 1,448 
British permanently residing at Hong-Kong. In 1885 
the latter numbered only 785. These 1,448 residents 
comprise 785 men, compared with 336 in 1881, 300 wo- 
men as against 165, 159 boys as against 144, and 194 girls 
as against 144. The proportion of the women to the 
men has not kept pace with the increase in the popu- 
lation. In 1 88 1, there were 47 women to every 100 
men; now, there are only 37 to every 100. Amongst 
the other European communities which are composed 
principally of Americans and of Portuguese, there were, 
in 1881, 82 women to 100 men; now, there are only 71. 
The Portuguese is the only conununity which has a pro- 
portion of 136 women to 100 men. The climate of 
Hong-Kong has not deterred them from coming. The 
English wives who are so courageous have been dis- 
tanced. But, that they have been surpassed by the Ame- 
rican and Portuguese women, is less dangerous for their 
reputation than for the morals of their husbands. 


courage to face it and to endeavour to 
solve it. 

It is possible by a timely and judicious 
course of action, to transform a weakly and 
ungainly girl into a healthy and graceful 
maiden, who will not only find a suitor, but 
will have a host of suitors contending for 
her favour. And so Hong-Kong, an unhealthy 
island and a deserted rock, by prompt and 
judicious initiative could be transformed into 
a charming spot and a populous town, 
whither colonists would resort and where, 
once come, they would settle. What was 
necessary to achieve this? To ensure the 
arrival of colonists, existence there must 
first be rendered possible; to ensure their 
remaining, there must be attractions which 
would rival those of Europe, that is to say, 
it should afford them the opportunity o 
enriching themselves and at the same time 
enlist their interest. And the British have 
known how to accomplish this. 

During the earlier years of the occu- 
pation nearly ;^8o,ooo were expended on 
Public Works; and considerable sums are 
devoted to this object each succeeding year. 
Not but that a host of abuses may be 
chronicled in regard to these works. In one 
of the latest debates in the Legislative 
Council, a member distributed the following 
significant tabular statement : 



,;.T:,.r> Tr i- ur u i- Public Works. 

YEAR. Establishment. Ordinary expenditure. 

1887 547,650 dollars. 49,402 dollars. 

1888 552,875 „ 62,336 „ 

1889 602,183 „ 58,139 ), 

1890 655,233 „ 75,530 „ 

1891 758,139 „ 90,806 „ 

Thus in the ordinary budget the employes 
cost eight to ten times as much as the public 
works. But what may be termed the extra- 
ordinary budget — derived from the sale of 
land, loans, and surplus receipts — is almost 
entirely devoted to pubUc works, such as 
roads, a funicular railway, and especially 
hygienic works. 

Hong-Kong was exposed to three scour- 
ges: typhoons, rains and fever. As a safe- 
guard against the typhoons, quays of unusual 
solidity, and the breakwaters at Causeway 
Bay were constructed; as a protection 
against the rains, the declivities were staked, 
and channels were cut for the water; as a 
preventative against fever, the swamps and 
stagnant pools were drained, the houses were 
built on piles, drains were laid down, a per- 
fected system of sewerage instituted and, 
above all, an inexhaustible ^ supply of water, 

' Or ought, at least, to be so. But it is not certain 
that the works connected with the reservoirs of Tytam 


involving a large outlay, was secured : the 
reservoirs of Hong-Kong are an admirable 
piece of work, and the water stored therein 
is so wholesome and agreeable, that it is 
exported in bottles to places distant a ten 
days' journey. 

This work of sanitary improvements, 
which, however, it must be remarked, was 
not undertaken with any degree of contin- 
uity until many years later, has been attend- 
ed by good results. We have seen what 
the mortality was from 1842 to 1846. In 
1849, in a garrison of 1,500 to 1,600 men, 
120 died within a few months; in 185 1, the 
number of deaths amongst the troops in 
garrison was 76; in 1852, 58; in 1853, 56. 
And so it continued, at an average rate of 
4 to 6%. The year 1865 was a calamitous 
one. An epidemic of a species of yellow 
fever broke out. The second battalion of 
the 9th regiment numbering 835 men, lost 
95 through it, and, in addition, 115 had to 
be placed on the sick-list; the second bat- 
talion of the nth regiment, 716 strong, lost 
94 through it, and 162 more were invalided. 
It was then i, e., after 23 years of occupa- 
tion, that the construction of the necessary 

and Pokefulum were executed as conscientiously as could 
be wished, or that they insure a supply of water to the 
town proportionately large to justify the sums expended 
on them. 


additions to barracks and hospitals was 
decided on. The existing barracks could 
only accommodate 1,360 men, whereas the 
garrison always numbered over 1,500 men, 
more than 50 of whom were married; the 
military hospital had accommodation for 150 
sick persons, but the number admitted was 
180 to 200. Since the enlargement of the 
barracks and hospitals, there has been a 
marked decrease in the mortality. 

In regard to hygiene and health it is 
impossible to compare the condition of the 
colonists with that of the troops. The 
hygienic condition of the soldier is abomi- 
nable, he is imprudent and of doubtful 
sobriety; he is badly housed, and is obliged 
to perform duties which are occasionally 
very troublesome, notably the night-watches 
which are dangerous in these latitudes. The 
colonist — we refer to the colonist of Hong- 
Kong — is usually exempt from these disad- 
vantages. And yet, during the period exten- 
ding from 1842 to 1865, the average 
mortality amongst the colonists was no less 
than 5%. In i860, it was 3.20%, and in 
1862, 2.24; but in 1863 it reached 6.32, 
in 1859, 6.66, and in 1858, 7.51%. Subsequent 
to 1 866, it has continuously decreased ; since 
1868 the rate has been 2%, and since 1875, 
on the average^ 2.42, the lowest being 1.80 
in 1882, and the highest 3.09 in 1884. 


In addition to this, it may be mentioned 
that since 1850, and especially since 1866, 
the sanitary condition of the colonists or 
of the troops has not been a subject for 
anxiety or argument either in the colony 
itself or in the mother-country. People have 
made up their minds to the inevitable. It 
is, as it were, taken for granted that the 
death-rate there must be from 2 to 3 Vo. 
Nevertheless, both the colonists and the 
local Government are making most praise- 
worthy efforts to ameliorate the sanitary 
condition of the colony, and one is entitled 
to hope that a number of works such as a 
perfected system of drainage, a rigorous in- 
spection of unwholesome dwellings, a water- 
supply which, owing to the continual enlarge- 
ment of the reservoirs and a better system 
of filtration, is constantly improving both in 
quantity and quality, will render Hong-Kong, 
in spite of its tropical situation, a healthy 
place of residence.* 

Add to this that, notwithstanding a tem- 
perature which is frequently excessive, it is, 
at least for the traveller who spends a few 
days there, one of the most agreeable resorts 
in the world, and you may imagine what it 
owes to its administrators. 

' See, however, a communication made to the Royal 
Meteorological Society in 1890 by Mr William Doberick, 
which places Hong-Kong and its climate in an anything 
but favourable light. 


Methods of Government and of Administration — 
Regime in the British Colonies — Liberty and its 
degrees — The Officials — The Executive. 

The system of government, and of the 
executive administration at Hong-Kong, has 
in itself nothing which can at first sight 
attract attention, still less excite admiration. 
Any one of our legislators would have been 
quite competent to draw up on paper, an 
equally well-arranged and more logical plan 
of administration. But the system which 
has been in force for fifty years, has insured, 
or, at any rate, — which is still a high enco- 
mium — not impeded the prosperity of the 
colony : on this account it deserves to be 
studied, and studied moreover, — since one 
is often inclined to exaggerate merit, and 
to draw final inferences from an idea, — both 
with reference to what it has and what it 
lacks, what its originators have desired to 
do, and what they have declined to do. 


The British colonies may be divided into 
three categories : i . The Crown colonies, 
which are subject, as an English writer has 
remarked, to the meddlesome despotism of 
of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 
and to which the Home Government supplies 
laws and officials : the island of Ceylon is 
one of this class. 2. The colonies which pos- 
sess representative institutions, but not a res- 
ponsible Government, the Home Government 
reserving the right of vetoing legislative mea- 
sures, and of appointing public functionaries : 
the colony of Barbadoes belongs to this ca- 
tegory. Thirdly and lastly, the colonies 
which have both representative institutions, 
and a responsible Government which fills up 
all appointments, the Home Government mere- 
ly reserving the right of vetoing legislative 
measures (a right which it rarely exercises), 
and of nominating the Governor: Canada is 
a colony of this class. 

Hong-Kong belongs to the first order, and 
for this reason: the British have not arbi- 
trarily instituted these categories, nor have 
they arbitrarily classified their various colo- 
nies; they have allowed themselves to be 
guided by a leading principle which may be 
reduced to the following essential proposition : 
the independence and autonomy of a colony 
shall be in proportion to the possible, and 
probable discretion of its colonists. 


There are a number of obstacles with 
which this same discretion may come into 
colHsion; the most frequent and most dan- 
gerous one of all is, a conflict between the 
interests of the colonists and other interests, 
including such as are usually opposed to 
theirs, by which I mean the interests of the 
native inhabitants of the colony. It is not 
to be expected that men animated by a 
spirit of gain — and colonists are men of this 
type — should possess sufficient inherent 
equity and moral fortitude to enable them 
to prefer the interests of the native inhabi- 
tants to their own, or even to wish to con- 
ciliate them. Thus, whenever a colony 
contains a minority of Europeans, the Home 
Government, in the interests of justice and 
civilisation, as well as in its own interests 
(for it is in reality answerable to the natives) 
is compelled to take the reins of Govern- 
ment into its own hands. And this is how 
matters stand with regard to Hong-Kong. 

Then, if this principle be admitted — a 
principle which, from another point of view, 
is defective, for it implies the administration 
from afar of countries of which the Govern- 
ment has but an imperfect knowledge, — it 
is amended by surrounding the administra- 
tion of the colony by the Home Government 
with certain safeguards calculated to render 
it more enlightened and more efficient. 


To commence with, good officials are 
placed at the head of affairs. 

Good officials are a rare commodity any- 
where. The British take infinite pains to 
attract them to their colonies. Certain of 
the rules which they have adopted for this 
purpose^ and, — what is still more creditable 
— have adhered to, are well worth conside- 

The first rule is, that officials must not 
be selected hap-hazard. The first comer, 
the literary, commercial, or legal outcast 
must not be allowed entry into Government 
employ de piano. His admission must be 
dependent upon his passing certain pre- 
scribed tests. 

The second is, that high positions such 
as that of the Head of Affairs, or Governor 
must not be accessible to persons of mere 
ordinary ability. The posts must be adapted 
to the talents of the individual. A copying 
clerk, a subordinate who has been accus- 
tomed to perform humble duties, and who 
for years past has occupied a post requiring 
but a small modicum of intelligence must 
not, by the mere ordinary routine of regular 
promotion, be entitled to succeed to a post 
requiring initiative and tact. Should there 
prove to be amongst the staff of officials 
individual members, who are qualified for 
promotion to a higher grade, they are 


required to prove their capacity by pas- 
sing the prescribed competitive examinations. 

The third and not the least important rule 
is, that it is expedient to guarantee the 
supreme head of each colony full authority 
and perfect security. A Governor must be 
able to rely implicitly on his subordinates, 
nor have any occasion to fear the inclina- 
tion to rebellion or the petty perfidy v^rhich 
undermine the position of a Chief, and finally 
render his supersession necessary. Conse- 
quently, on the one hand, all the authority 
centres in the Governor; and on the other, 
his immediate subordinates are but very rare- 
ly promoted to the rank he holds. They 
may possibly officiate ad interim as acting 
Governors, but long years must elapse and 
many changes take place ere they occupy 
his position. This restrains the ambitious, 
and keeps them up to the mark. Moreover, 
the post of Governor is frequently (though 
this is an expedient which is not devoid of 
danger) conferred on Members of Parlia- 

Lastly, the fourth rule is, that in the Gov- 
ernment Service, as elsewhere, suitable 
remuneration must be paid for services ren- 
dered. Officials employed in the British colo- 
nies are highly remunerated; their salaries 
are paid in good hard cash, and they are 
treated with every consideration. They receive 


large salaries during their term of active 
service and liberal pensions on retirement. 

Some particulars may suitably here be 
given regarding the competitive examina- 
tions, and the scale of emoluments, so far 
as they concern Hong-Kong. 

The competitive examination ^ is based 
on a dual principle. Colonial officials are 
burdened with so many responsibilities and 
have to undergo so much fatigue that they 
must possess physical as well as moral and 
intellectual qualifications, combined with a 
thorough general education, and a large 
amount of technical knowledge. 

Their physical qualifications are certified 
by a strict medical examination: only those 
candidates who possess sound and strong 
constitutions are passed. 

Their moral qualifications are certified by 
a personal inquiry on the part of the Civil 
Service Commissioners. 

Their intellectual qualifications are certified 
by a preliminary examination for admission, 
and by further examinations. 

The object of the preliminary examination 
is to test their general knowledge; it is the 
ordinary test for the candidates termed 
Eastern Cadets who are intended for service 
at Hong-Kong, Singapore, or in Ceylon. 

* See the remarks on this subject in The British in 
Burma, Part 2, Chapters vi and vii. 


1 have before me the examination papers 
of the last few years; they contain both 
compulsory and optional subjects. The 
compulsory subjects comprise latin transla- 
tion and a latin exercise; either a Greek, 
French, German, or Italian translation and 
exercise ; and lastly, English composition, and 
an essay on a given subject pertaining to 
administration. The optional subjects com- 
prise any two of the following: namely, 
mathematics (pure and applied), geography, 
history, international law, political economy, 
geology, civil engineering, surveying, etc. 

And let not the reader imagine that this 
examination is mere child's play. The pa- 
pers set might, indeed, be apparently im- 
posing while the actual tests were of a very 
modest nature. Such is not, however, the 
case. Here is an instance taken from the 
papers for 1890. The Greek translation is 
from Euripides; the French translation is 
from Leconte de Tlsle's Le Reve du Ja- 
guar. The English composition consists of 
an essay on one of the three following sub- 
jects : Great Trading Companies as Civilising 
Agents; the Social Ideal; Notoriety and 
Renown. And the essay on administration 
consisted of the following test : a Blue Book, 
containing 16 pages, on Central Asian af- 
fairs was placed before the candidates, and 
they were required to make, first of all, a 


short abstract of each document, and then 
to give an outline of the matter treated of, 
not according to the order of the documents 
as given in the Blue Book, but in their 
logical sequence. 

And so on with regard to the other 
sections. This examination may not in- 
aptly be compared to that which our For- 
eign Office attaches have to pass. It is 
only the good scholars of our Ecole des 
Sciences Politiques (School of Political Science) 
who could successfully face such an ordeal ; 
the best pupils of our public-schools would 
be unequal to the task. 

Having said so much in regard to gene- 
ral knowledge ; let us now turn to the tech- 
nical requirements. 

The cadet, as soon as he has passed the 
preliminary examination, at once proceeds 
to the colony. He reports himself to the 
Governor who, it might be supposed from 
the regulations, would at once assign him 
a post in the Service, but who, in reality, 
directs him to proceed to Canton to learn 
the native language which is indispensable 
in towns, such as Hong-Kong or Singapore, 
containing a Chinese population, mostly na- 
tives of the provinces of Quang-Tung and 
Fo-Kien. This stage of his career varies 
in length and ends in an examination con- 
ducted by competent judges. Then, and not 


till then^ the cadet is declared duly qualified 
for service, which he enters upon as soon 
as a vacancy occurs. 

These strict ordeals do not frighten away 
candidates. Every year they come forward 
in large numbers: in August 1888, 57 can- 
didates competed for 9 appointments; in 
1889, there were 61 candidates for 12 ap- 
pointments; in 1890, 59 candidates for 6 
appointments; in 1891, 49 candidates for 7 

Having said so much regarding the exam- 
ination papers, let us proceed to consider 
the emoluments. 

Every cadet, on admission, receives 1,500 
dollars a year and, in addition to this, during 
his stay in China, an allowance for his lod- 
ging and for prosecuting his studies. On 
completing this course of study and being 
finally admitted into the Civil Service of the 
colony, he receives a provisional salary of 
1,800 dollars, until such time as a regular 
appointment becomes vacant. 

The salaries pertaining to the principal 
posts are as follows : 

The Governor of Hong-Kong receives 
32,000 dollars, or about ;^4,8oo; the Colo- 
nial Secretary, 9,700 dollars; the Chief 
Justice, % 12,000; the Puisne Judge, $8,400; 
the Surveyor General, $5,300; the Attorney 
General, % 7,800 (but he is prohibited to take 


private practice;) the Registrar General, 
$ 6,800 ; the Police Magistrate, $ 6,066 ; the 
Harbour-master, ^3,000; the Chief Conser- 
vator of Forests, $2,700: the Civil Surgeon, 
$ 4,800 ; the President of the Board of 
Health $ 2,400. In addition to their salary, 
many have free quarters provided them. 
Attention is also paid to a provision for 
their families : hence the institution of a 
Widows' and Orphans' Fund, Lastly, there 
is the prospect of a title for those that 
distinguish themselves. They arrive at Hong- 
Kong as plain Mr Davis, Mr Bonham, Mr 
Bowring, etc. ; they leave as Sir John F. 
Davis, Sir George Bonham, Sir John Bow- 
ring. The most distinguished, on comple- 
ting their term of office, are called to Her 
Majesty's Privy Council. Others obtain 
seats in Parliament, or reoccupy their seats 
(for many leave Parliament to take up 
colonial appointments), and there they prove 
of great service in exercising a competent 
and temperate control over colonial affairs. 
When once they are * selected ' and class- 
ified on account of their merit, confidence 
is placed in this merit. A certain amount 
of latitude is allowed them; they are, more- 
over, supported, encouraged, and kept in 
their place. Hong-Kong, since 1841, has 
had nineteen Governors : this is an average 
of two years and eight months for each of 


them. And^ in these latitudes, everybody is 
agreed in fixing three years as the maxi- 
mum term of residence for a European. 

The powers vested in the Governor are 
very considerable : he nominates various offi- 
cials, the ordinary judges, and the justices 
of the peace; he has the right of suspending 
any one of his subordinates; he possesses 
the prerogative of mercy ; during his term 
of office he bears the title and exercises 
the powers, of a vice-admiral; is president 
of the Executive Council, and nominates, 
provisionally, the members of the Legislative 
Council, etc., etc. 

The collateral existence of a Governor of 
Hong-Kong and of Executive and Legislative 
Councils may appear inconsistent with the 
expressed desire of the Home Government 
to govern colonies of this class by its own 
officials, and with its own laws. This 
seeming inconsistency is, however, merely 
on the surface ; for the duty of the Councils 
is, literally, only to counsel and enlighten 
the Government, which far from fearing 
any encroachment on its absolute authority, 
endeavours to modify the same, so as to 
render it thereby acceptable and beneficent. 

The Executive Council is composed of 
the Governor, the Commander-in-Chief, the 
Colonial Secretary, the Attorney-General, 
and of such other official heads of depart- 


ments whom the Governor may be pleased 
to appoint : such as, the Treasurer, Surveyor- 
General, Commissioner of PoHce. Its sit- 
tings are not public. The Governor presi- 
des : he is bound to consult the Executive 
Council on all aflfairs of importance, but not 
necessarily to follow its advice. Should any 
influential member of this Council persist in 
maintaining an opinion with which the Gov- 
ernor as persistently disagrees, it is custom- 
ary — a custom which is excellent in prin- 
ciple, but sometimes troublesome in practice, 
and to which there is now, apparently, a 
tendency to make excessive sacrifices — to 
forward an impartial statement of the two 
adverse opinions to London, and to await 
the Secretary of State's decision thereon. 

The Legislative Council exercises more 
important functions. The British Parlia- 
ment passes laws which are applicable 
generally to all the colonies, but abstains, as 
a rule, from legislating on special matters 
which require local investigation. ^ Such 
matters come within the province of the Le- 
gislative Council. The Governor alone can 
introduce new laws ; in reality, the members 
of Council can usually secure his approval of 

* Recently, the repeal by the House of Commons of 
an Infectious Diseases Act applicable to Hong-Kong, 
proved the inconvenience of making laws on the banks 
of the Thames for a country 2,000 leagues off. 


measures which appear to them desirable. 
The sittings of the Council are public, ex- 
cepting during the debate on the Budget. 
All votes are recorded publicly. The Coun- 
cil debates measures ; and the Governor has 
the casting vote. A measure passed by the 
Council immediately becomes law, but is only 
put in force under reservation of the Royal 
sanction, and is sometimes not even pro- 
mulgated until such sanction has been actu- 
ally obtained. 

The Legislative Council of Hong-Kong, 
at the present moment, is composed of two 
classes of members, between whom harmony 
does not always exist: the official and the 
non-official members. The official members 
comprise : the Governor, who presides, the 
Chief Justice, the Colonial Secretary, the 
Attorney-General, and three other officers 
appointed by the Governor. The non-offi- 
cial members are five in number : three, one 
of whom is a Chinaman, are directly nomi- 
nated by the Governor; the other two are 
elected, one by the Justices of the Peace 
in a body, the other by the Chamber of 
Commerce, all five being subject to the 
Royal approval. Their term of office lasts 
six years. In the Legislative Council the 
Governor has the greatest influence, and his 
opinion, moreover, invariably prevails, as the 
official members are bound to side with him. 


or to resign. But here again custom acts 
as a palliative : the Governor usually forwards 
the minutes setting forth the views of the 
dissentient members to the Secretary of 
State for the Colonies, and the Queen, when 
made acquainted with the full facts of the 
case, can either refuse or accord her sanc- 
tion to the measure. 

These arrangements, which — at first sight, 
merely, for practice gainsays this opinion — 
may appear not particularly liberal, represent, 
nevertheless, a recent and considerable ad- 
vance on the state of affairs inaugurated in 
1843. According to the constitution of the 
5th April 1843, the Legislative Council was 
to be composed of the Governor, and of 
such other persons, official or otherwise, 
residing in the colony, whom the Queen might 
be pleased to appoint; their term of office 
being likewise dependent on Her Majesty's 
pleasure. For a long time it. was custom- 
ary to nominate five officials and two colon- 
ists as members of this Council. In 1849 
or 1850, the Governor, Sir G. Bonham, pro- 
posed to add to these a few new members, 
both colonists and officials ; however, nothing 
came of this. In 1855, his successor, Sir J. 
Bowring, again took up this proposal in 
another form which is worthy of mention. 

In a letter to Lord John Russell of the 
2nd April 1855, he proposed a reorganisa- 


tion of the Legislative Council on a more 
extended basis. Six other members were 
to be added to the existing seven members, 
three official and three elected members. 
This would have made a total of thirteen 
members : the Governor^ seven officials, and 
five colonists. The five colonists were to be 
elected from among Her Majesty's subjects, 
by a body of electors composed of the les- 
sees of Crown lands paying a rent of ;^io 
and upwards. This represented a total of 
1,999 electors: i86 British, 176 other Euro- 
peans and Americans, and 1,637 Chinese. 
This was considered a dangerous measure, 
and its adoption negatived. * It was not 
until the year 1883 that the Legislative 
Council was enlarged, and modified. 

At the time of this reconstitution on a 
far smaller basis than had been proposed 
in 1857, a very interesting exchange of 
views took place between the Governor, 
Sir J. Bowen, and the Secretary of State, 
Lord Derby. 

Sir J. Bowen wished to increase the num- 
ber of members in the Executive Council 
from five to seven, and at the same time 
to augment the number of members com- 
posing the Legislative Council. He wished 
the latter to consist of six non-official and 
two new official members, one of these last 

* See Blue Book, No. loi, of 12th June 1857. 


being the Commander-in-Chief of the forces. 
The Commander-in-Chief was already a mem- 
ber of the Executive Council, and he wished 
him also to take his place in the Legislative 
Council. Lord Derby refused his assent to 
this arrangement. *^The chief reason for my 
decision," he wrote on the 7th August 1883, 
'4s that the Commander-in-Chief of Her Ma- 
jesty's military forces is not bound to the 
same extent as civilian officers, to support 
the measures proposed by the Government. 
If he felt conscientiously bound to speak, or 
to vote, against any one of these measures, 
the opposition of an officer of such high 
rank could not fail to have a distressing in- 
fluence. It therefore appears to me desirable 
that the Colonial Government should have 
the advice of the Commander-in-Chief in the 
Executive Council, but that he should not 
be called upon to take part in the debates 
of the Legislative Council." 

The above is a rough sketch of the in- 
stitutions of the colony of Hong-Kong. It 
is difficult to note everything in so cursory 
a review ; and still harder to comment there- 
on by placing side by side one's reasons for 
approval or disapproval, for praise or blame. 
Perfection exists no more at Hong-Kong 
than it does anywhere else. Amongst the offi- 
cials whom I have praised, can be found men 
of poor ability, and even some who are ab- 


solutely despicable. > Incapable and unfaith- 
ful officials are not wanting : chiefs who are 
not loyal to their subordinates, subordina- 
tes who betray their chiefs, who denounce 
them to the higher authorities, and even 
communicate, without the knowledge of the 
latter, directly with the Home Government. ^ 
At other times, the Home Government itself 
is to blame. It insists on its own wishes 
being carried out, and pretends to govern 
directly, even down to the minutest matters 
of detail, a country 2000 leagues away. It 
occasionally mistreats its best servants, by 
imposing on them, through a spirit of nig- 
gardly economy, tasks far above their strength, 
or by removing them without sufficient rea- 
son, and introduces men of inexperience into a 
service, the knowledge of which is so diffi- 
cult to thoroughly grasp. But these defects 
and imperfections must not be permitted to 
exercise an undue influence over our judg- 
ment, and to blind us to the wonderfully 
successful results obtained by active organi- 
sation, which we shall proceed to relate. 

' Cf. for instance, Blue Books No. 161 of i860; No. 
427 of 1862; No. 113 of 1863. Cf. the fact that in 1892, 
a very severe measure was adopted against the offi- 
cials : they were all absolutely forbidden to purchase 
Crown lands. This measure, though probably exces- 
sive, in its general bearing, is, however, none the less 

^ Cf. notably the Report {ox the year 1882, C. I2i8,p. 275. 

^ Cf. the same Report y p. 278. 


Methods of Administration — Trade — Finance. 

A COLONY, to which its founders have 
succeeded in attracting labour (and what 
labour! abundant, skilled, disciplinable), and 
merchants (what merchants, too ! men of 
capital, daring and endurance), cannot fail 
to prosper, provided the Government inter- 
poses no obstacle to its prosperity. 

Governments are imbued with two ideas, 
both of them inaccurate in their premises, 
and false in their conclusions. The one is, 
that they are full of wisdom and intelligence ; 
that it is through these very qualities that 
they can lay claim to their power ; that they, 
being the Government, must perforce know 
how to govern better than any one else, and 
ought, in fact, to govern everything, even what 
by nature or situation is beyond their con- 
trol. The other idea is, that being the 
trustees of the national property, they are 
responsible for the success of its enterprises ; 


that, their term of existence being short, 
they must achieve an immediate success, 
and that, if no results are achieved (during 
their term of office), the enterprise must 
necessarily be a bad one, for which the only 
remaining alternative is liquidation. 

With such notions, a Government may, 
and indeed must, be led into a policy which 
is, as a rule, blundering, inconsistent, and 
deceptive. It will set up a claim to govern 
from afar, and that too despotically ; to sug- 
gest a general system of government and 
to supervise all details ; to invest State funds 
and create a frequently factitious activity, 
thus inducing private capital to follow its 
lead; to actuate and even direct those en- 
gaged in mercantile pursuits, and to impose 
upon them protective and embarrassing re- 
gulations ; or again to get rich with them 
and sometimes at their expense: later on, 
it will even claim competition with them, 
and reserve to itself the more profitable 
transactions. On the other hand, if its fi- 
nances are at a low ebb, it will levy from 
the colony excessive contributions, or will 
refuse to give the latter public works and 
the indispensable equipment, etc., etc. Be- 
tween these two kinds of excess, the colony 
runs the risk of being ruined. 

The British Government did not avoid all 
these faults with regard to Hong-Kong. Yet, 


it understood how to solve complicated 
problems : such as, allowing the colony time 
for growth without haggling too much over 
the sacrifices entailed ; granting the colonists 
and merchants sufficient freedom of action, 
and aiding their initiative without supplying 
or suppressing it; executing the necessary 
public works without taking on itself the 
whole burden; establishing the public finan- 
ces on a satisfactory footing without over- 
taxing the rate-payers : in a word, associat- 
ing the fortune of the colony with that of 
the mother country, and the prosperity of the 
colonists with that of the colony, without 
sacrificing or bringing into conflict opposite 

That trade would be the important factor 
of Hong-Kong's prosperity was known to us 
beforehand. A market had been looked 
for which would serve as a common rendez- 
vous for European and Chinese merchants 
and their wares, and for this purpose Hong- 
Kong had been selected; the important 
point was then to adapt it to the part it 
was to play. This adaptation was merely a 
question of equipment. Beyond that, nothing 
could be done. 

The remark has often been made — though 
not often enough — that trade, in order to 
flourish, has no need of a Government ca- 
pable of great efforts of imagination, or 


lavish of expenditure, but, on the contrary, 
requires a minimum of intervention. Doubt- 
less it requires security (which Government 
alone can insure) ; doubtless it requires equip- 
ment, means of transport and correspon- 
dence, exchange and payment (ail of which 
are supplied more efficiently, and at a lower 
rate, by private initiative than through any 
other source) ; but, when once it has these 
first necessities and essential factors, what 
is especially requisite, is freedom of action. 
No excessively prudent regulations, no over- 
anxious precautions: these only impede and 
frustrate the development of trade which 
asks for nothing but the free exercise of 
its faculties. 

The British understood this, and it is 
certainly not very wonderful that they 
did so, though we cannot but admire 
them for it. Hong-Kong had cost, and still 
continued to cost them very dear; twenty 
years after its acquisition, it did not pay its 
expenses. When at last there came a turn- 
ing-point in its career, it might have occur- 
red to some, as a justifiable and rational 
measure, to impose an import-duty, for in- 
stance, on all goods entering the port, 
whether shipped from Europe or Asia. 
This was not done. At the outset, Hong- 
Kong had been proclaimed a free port, 
and in spite of a long series of vexa- 


tions, ^ in spite of the narrow circumstan- 
ces prevailing, at one time in the mother 
country, and at another in the colony, 
the resolution originally adopted was per- 
sistently adhered to. To-day, it is very 
evident that this perseverance was the right 
course, and that, if Hong-Kong was to be- 
come a port of distribution and an important 
place of transit, the gates must be thrown 
open on both sides. But this has not always 
been equally apparent, and more than one 
nation * might be mentioned which, after 
acquiring what are called commercial routes, 
has, notwithstanding this example, made it 
its immediate care to erect a barrier at the 
entrance to the route and another at its exit. 
At Hong-Kong a happy distinction between 
the departments belonging to State and those 
belonging to private individuals, was arrived 
at from the first. 

' The port of Hong-Kong is not a model of conveni- 
ence ; vessels cannot come alongside the quay, but all 
operations have to be conducted in the roadstead, by 
means of lighters. But anchorage is gratuitous ; pilotage 
is optional, and the light-house and buoying dues are 
very moderate (i cent, o fr. lo per ton.) The narrow 
straits leading to Hong-Kong are well lighted. New 
beacons have been erected (Cape Rock) and others are 
contemplated (Waglan). As a compensation for the 
expenses which they have necessitated, the Government 
levies beacon dues. But, in the Legislative Council, the 
non-official members have often stated that the levy of 
these dues will cease as soon as the cost of the works 
has been recouped. 


The island of Hong-Kong posesses a port, 
and a capital. The town must of necessity 
be maintained in a healthy condition: its 
sanitation concerns the Government ; the port 
must have an adequate equipment: the 
equipment regards the merchants. The hy- 
gienic works, the canals and reservoirs, the 
sewers and drainage, are entrusted to the 
vigilance and care of the Executive ; the 
management of the forests, the docks, the 
quays, the reclamation of lands, are all mat- 
ters, the planning and execution of which, 
devolve on the colonists alone. Theirs to 
promote^ to study, to direct, to reap the 
profit and, under adverse circumstances, to 
bear the loss. 

Not that these responsibilities in any way 
dismay them. Far from dreaming of shel- 
tering themselves behind the authority of the 
Government, they prefer to manage their 
own affairs and to settle their difficulties 
without its interference. A few years ago 
complaints were made at Hong-Kong, about 
the organisation of bill- and stock-brokers. 
With a view to get rid of the black sheep, 
the idea was originated of making the exer- 
cise of their profession subject to a high 
license-tax. The Chamber of Commerce, 
when consulted on the subject, admitted 
that a license-tax would doubtless have 
the effect of purging the corporation. **Yet,'' 


in the words of an official report, ** it depre- 
cated any legal intervention in the conduct 
of private affairs, fearing that legal measures 
would never be sufficiently elastic to meet 
the varied requirements of Exchange ope- 

On the other hand, in cases where private 
persons are powerless, they can depend 
upon Government intervention on their be- 
half. The colonists of Hong-Kong have one 
main object : that of doing as large a 
business as possible with China; the British 
Government spontaneously exerts itself to 
gain them admission to the Chinese markets, 
and to facilitate their access to the more 
remote provinces. And, in order that they 
may succeed in their endeavours, the Gov- 
ernor of Hong-Kong and the British Minis* 
ter to the Court of Pekin enter into a close 
aUiance. Success does not always crown 
their efforts; but whether the question be 
that of securing the assessment of the quota 
of duty called likin^ of determining the 
effect of the transit passes^ or of getting the 
Yang-Tse thrown open to European naviga- 
tion as far as Chunking, the foresight with 
which the negotiations are usually * initiated, 

* I say "usually ", because certain diplomatists, among 
them the last minister at Pekin, Sir John Walsham, have 
given rise to many complaints amongst the merchants 
of Hong-Kong." 


and the pertinacity with which they are con- 
ducted throughout, defy criticism. 

It is" the combination of so many fortunate 
circumstances, the Hberal spirit of its insti- 
tutions^ the constant anxiety of the Govern- 
ment to afford the colonists entire Hberty of 
action and energetic support, which has by 
degrees attracted to Hong-Kong a nucleus 
of merchants who, in skill and good fortune, 
may have their equals in London or Shang- 
hai, but- who are nowhere surpassed. It may 
be objected to them — especially of late 
years — that, on the strength of their good 
fortune, they have become so daring as al- 
most to be called rash, and sanguine even 
to the extent of speculation ; but none know 
better than they how to manipulate credit, 
make money circulate, and do a brisk busi- 

There is no place where what is called 
personal credit, that is to say, credit obtain- 
ed not so much on the security of a 
man's property — the creditor's safeguard — 
as on the strength of his good address and 
his talents, can be more readily obtained 
than at Hong-Kong; and as to business 
transactions, they are completed so rapidly, 
that a statistical record of them would be 

* "Sir J. Pope Hennessey had thought of establishing 
at Hong-Kong a statistical bureau for imports, as at 



Prosperous finance must naturally be the 
outcome of prosperous trade. And yet, the 
financial task of the Hong-Kong Government 
was still one of difficulty. 

In the organisation and management of 
colonial finance, problems are met with, which 
vary considerably in importance, but which 
are all worthy of the attention of statesmen 
or experts. A colony, as we have said, 
but may here repeat with advantage, so ill- 
appreciated is this truth, is a long-dated invest- 
ment ; it yields no return for some thirty or 
forty years, and thus cannot pay for anything. 
All the cost of its maintenance, all the ex- 
penses of its first establishment fall of neces- 
sity on the mother country. And a first 
problem suggests itself: When will the 
sacrifices entailed on the mother country 
come to an end? When will the period of 
nursing terminate? When will the voracious 
nursling be in a fit state to be weaned? 

The danger is, that the mother may tire 
too soon of her offspring. All colonies have, 
in the course of their existence, a phase, 
during which the mother country is doubt- 
Singapore, which is likewise a free port. But it seems 
that it is extremely difficult to obtain exact figures, on 
account of the rapidity with which vessels arrive at, and 
leave the colony ; they leave the roadstead before there 
has been time to deposit at the harbour-master's office 
complete copies of their manifests." (Extract from a * Con- 
sular Report' of 15th May 1878.) 


ful as to their success ; all are exposed to 
the risk of the indispensable grant-in-aid being 
prematurely withdrawn, or even of having 
taxes imposed on them which they are un- 
able to bear. Their fortunes may be re- 
presented by means of a curve : there is a 
moment which we may call the turning 
point, when the curve having reached the 
extreme limit of its declivity^ ceases to des- 
cend and has not yet begun to ascend : 
nothing must be demanded from a colony, 
until this point has been reached and left 

On the other hand, from the moment that 
this point is reached, the colony is bound 
to contribute to the cost of its maintenance, 
until such time as it can be in a position 
to defray the whole amount. And this se- 
cond rule is as important as the first, and 
is founded, moreover, on precisely the same 
basis. The work of colonisation, unHke that 
of evangelising, is by no means disinterest- 
ed. Every nation founding a colony has in 
view present or future pecuniary or political 
advantages. Whether these be increase of 
wealth or of influence, greater national 
power, or the spread of the race, matters 
little. It works with a view to remuneration, 
and, to prevent regret and discouragement, 
this remuneration must be adequate and 
not prove too long in coming. Failing this, 


the enterprise will be discredited in the eyes 
of Authorities, and the very principle under 
which the colonisation was carried out, will 
run the risk of being condemned. 

But more than one danger has to be faced 
in applying these two rules, and in recon- 
ciling these two needs. The mother country, 
being as a rule pressed for money, will be 
inclined prematurely to require the colony 
to be responsible for the cost of its govern- 
ment and administration; the colony, forget- 
ful of its obligations to the parent, and still 
feeling the effects of a difficult debtit^ will 
do its best to live for a long while to come 
at the latter's expense. True it is, that 
there exists an intermediary between the two, 
whose business it is to reconcile their diver- 
gent views, viz., the Governor; but in the 
majority of cases, the Governor can be com- 
pared to the ambassador, who in his desire 
to please the Court to w^hich he is ac- 
credited, betrays unconsciously the inte- 
rests of his Government, and conspires 
against it with the very people he has been 
sent to. 

After this primary difficulty, come others 
of secondary importance. What class of 
taxes is preferable? Which will prove the 
least burdensome to the colonists? How 
are the Treasury coffers to be filled with- 
out impoverishing the rate-payers ? No sub- 


ject can be met with, that requires more 
careful treatment. 

This difficulty is all the greater in a col- 
ony like Hong-Kong, which in addition to 
its European colonists, contains an immense 
majority of Chinese, who are so changeable 
in their proceedings, so easily attracted, but 
so easily repelled. What limits ought to be 
fixed to the taxes imposed upon them? 
They are men who possess discrimination in 
administrative matters, and a remarkable per- 
ception of the legitimacy of taxing ; at the 
same time they are the most subtle and most 
clear-sighted men of business on the face of 
the earth, and perceive at once the differ- 
ence between taxes that are bearable, and 
those that will prove ruinous. As a result 
of this quick perception, they flock to the 
shelter of a well-ordered Government; 
but as soon as fiscal exactions appear 
excessive, take their flight in equally large 

Numbers of instances might be given to 
prove this fact. 

The British have not always been so hap- 
pily inspired in this department of their gov- 
ernment as in others. And if we wished 
to find useful examples bearing upon this 
subject, it would not, perhaps, be in Hong- 
Kong, but in other British Colonies, that we 
should have to look for them. However, 


even Hong-Kong, as a rule, affords evidence 
of wisdom on the part of the British. 

We cannot enter into further detail with 
regard to their organisation, and shall confine 
ourselves to a record of the results they 
have obtained. 


Results ;— The Budget — Commerce — Banks — Joint' 
stock Companies — Life of the Colonists, 

The finances of Hong-Kong were for a 
lengthy period in a state of mediocrity. 
For a long while the occupation of the col- 
ony was a heavy burden on the mother 
country. The expenditure, entitled civil, had 
risen during the first fourteen years to a 
total of ^273,000, or an average of ;^20,ooo 
per annum. Considerable at the outset 
(;^49,ooo in 1845), ^^ had been reduced to 
2*36,900 in 1846 and, little by little, to 
2 15,500 in 1851; but these reductions were 
effected by the stoppage of almost all public 

The military expenditure was still greater. 
In the earlier years it had reached, or ex- 
ceeded, ^200,000; in 1847, i^ still amoun- 
ted to ^115,000; in 1 85 1 it had been redu- 
ced to 2^52,000. The revenues of the colony 
were insignificant and a long way below the 
current expenditure. In 1855, there was, 
indeed, a surplus of ^7,000 (^47,000 as 


against ;^40,ooo,) but this was an exceptional 
year, and it was not until i860 that the 
revenue exceeded the expenditure, with 
any degree of regularity. The revenue of 
the colony could only just cover the 
ordinary Civil Service budget. Up to the 
present day the military expenses are still 
borne by the mother country, though, since 
1886, the colony has paid an annual con- 
tribution thereto of ^20,000, which there is 
even a talk of increasing, and of late years 
has also devoted considerable sums to de- 
fensive works and armaments. To meet 
this expenditure, it has contracted a loan of 
;^200,ooo. Prior to this, the colony had no 
debt. Provision is made annually in the bud- 
get for a sum of £7f>72^ which is to be 
applied to the payment of interest on the 
loan, and to the formation of a sinking-fund 
for its projected repayment in 1907. 
Table of receipts and disbursements.' 

' These figures are not strictly reliable, for the follow- 
ing reasons: 

In those of the earlier years the civil expenditure is 
frequently put down with the military. Thus, in 1846 
the above table gives the sum of ;f 60,000 as the civil 
expenditure, whereas another document (cf. the text of 
page 125) estimates it at merely ;^36,900. 

In the figures for the later years, even for the most 
recent, the English statistics difi"er one from the other. 
Thus the * Colonial List' gives $ 1,367,997 as the amount 
of revenue for 1886; and the Governor's * Annual Report' 
gives the same amount, but he adds thereto $ 34,737 






1845    £ 


£ 66,172 



,, 60,000 



,, 42,000 



,, 196,000 



„ 153,000 



,, 206,500 



„ 192,300 


1 90,600 

„ 182,750 

1871 , 

1 76,000 

„ 186,500 

1872 . 


,, 174,600 

1873 • 


„ 165,100 

1874 . 


,, 192,400 

1875 . 


„ 181,400 

1876 . 

1 84,400 

„ 187,600 


. $1 


$2,020,86 p 

as having been realised by premiums on sales of land, 
of which the * Colonial List * makes no mention. In 1887, 
the * Colonial List' makes the amount $ 1,582,274, whilst 
the Governor only gives $1,427,485; the difference is 
caused by $ 155,238 realised by these same premiums, 
which the * Colonial List* takes into account in 1887, but 
fails to mention in i88(5. 

On the other hand, the figures up to 1876, are given 
in pounds sterling, and subsequent to that year, in dollars. 
Now, the value of the dollar, during the last thirty years, 
has varied from 7 francs to fr.3.75. Under these cir- 
cumstances the task of comparing the budgets of remote 
periods, though not an impossible, is at any rate a diffi- 
cult one. 

' These sums include the expenditure on extraordi- 
nary works of defence or of public hygiene, of the 
importance of which the following figures will give an 
idea: in 1884, S 340i743 ; in 1885, $475,146; in 1886, 
$825,600; in 1887, $744,820; in 1888, $536,860; in 












1887 . . . 

1888 . . . 

1889 . . . 

1890 . . . 

1 89 1 (Estimate), 

These are considerable sums. To them 
must be added the accumulated surpluses 
amounting, in 1891, to a total of $817,318, 
and which are applied to the construction 
of Public Works which may be termed 
extraordinary. These figures must not, how- 
ever, delude us as to the financial pros- 
pects of the colony. That its finances are 
flourishing, is beyond a doubt ; but it can 
be foreseen that they will ere long encounter 
formidable obstacles. Victoria is a free port, 
and the development of trade does not 
bring in a corresponding increase of revenue. 
On the contrary, the expenditure must be 
on the increase, and for two reasons : one, 
which is accidental, is that the legitimate 
satisfaction expressed by recent Governors, 
and especially by Sir William des Voeux, 
has given rise to the opinion in England, 
that the colony is richer than it really is, 
and the Home Government has consequent- 

1890, nearly $400,000. This expenditure was defrayed 
by the accumulated budget-surpluses, and also by the 
loan of ;^20o,ooo. 


ly been induced to demand fresh sacrifices, 
notably for its defences ; the other is, that 
the complicated and luxurious mode of living, 
the growing and multifarious wants of the 
Far-Eastern Colonist entail and impose upon 
the Government a style of living, if we may 
use the expression, wJiich is daily becoming 
more extravagant. 

Rapid and convenient ways of intercom- 
munication ; gardens, promenades, public 
monuments which require keeping in repair, 
and especially the works connected with 
public sanitation, are terribly dear to keep 
up. Now, the resources of the colony 
are not very elastic. Of indirect taxes, it 
has only the duty on opium, and alcohol, 
besides stamps and licenses. The remaining 
taxes are all direct : the public lighting, the 
police^ water, house and ground rates : it is 
almost impossible to expand this class of 
taxation. Such imposts cannot be increased 
either in number or amount without running 
the risk of incurring serious inconveniences.^ 

* These imposts have risen, at the present day, to a 
tolerably high figure: notably that on houses exceeds 
13% of the revenue. There is thus a very strong feel- 
ing in the colony that the present generation is too 
heavily taxed, and that future generations will reap 
the benefit accruing from the works executed by means 
of these imposts. Consequently, public opinion demands 
either a reduction, or, at any rate, a temporary cessation 
from increased taxation ; it being held that public works 


Of late years high rates have been levied 
on ground-plots. This is, hov^ever, a merely 
temporary and intermittent source of revenue, 
and cannot be continuously drav^n upon 
without becoming exhausted. If, therefore, 
the Mrants of the colony continue to increase 
progressively^ it cannot rely upon the sale of 
these ground-plots to provide it v^ith a pro- 
gressive increase of resources. This is a 
matter, v^hich claims attention, though there 
is no cause for uneasiness. 

The expansion of the trade of Hong-Kong 
has been marvellous. There being no Cus- 
tom House and consequently no register, 
we cannot do more than estimate the 
amount. The progress made may, however, 
be guaged by the following figures : In 1 843 , 
the imports into Hong-Kong from Great 
Britain alone, represented a sum of ;^736,500 ; 
in 1853, after a succession of very prosper- 
ous years, this sum had gradually decreased 
by slow degrees to ;^3 78^00; in 1863, it 
had risen again to ^1,473,000. In 1885, 
the sum total of Hong-Kong trade exceeded 
^40,000,000, the exact amount being 

Statistics show that this sum was made 
up of exports amounting to ;^ 18, 63 5,181, 
and of imports amounting to ;^2 1,869,145. 

of urgent importance should be carried out by means 
of a new loan. 



But the expressions, exports and imports, are 
misleading. As Hong-Kong produces nothing, 
it cannot, properly speaking, export any- 
thing. Products are brought thither, from 
Europe, India, or China, and there await 
transmission to their final destination : hence 
the apparent imports and exports. Of this 
trade which exceeds ^40,000,000, more than 
one-half, ^24,000,000 (105 million Taels) is 
transacted with China, one-third with India, 
and the remainder with Europe. 

The tonnage has reached considerably 
higher figures, so high, indeed, as to appear 
almost exaggerated. Vessels of all descrip- 
tions (steamers, sailing vessels, junks), of 
every nationality (British, European, Chinese), 
which entered the port of Hong-Kong during 
the year 1878, represented, according to 
the Colonial List a tonnage of 8,693,000; 
in 1883, 10,566,000; in 1887, 12,729,000; 
in 1890, 13,500,000 tons. The Governor's 
report, however, gives lower figures: in 1887, 
4,078 vessels of 4,607,914 tons; 23,521 
junks of 1,793,923 tons; total 6,401,837 tons; 
in 1888, 3,821 vessels with 4,536,442 tons; 
23,958 junks with 1,863,968 tons; total, 
6,400,410 tons. The compilers of the Colo- 
nial List specify in their list both ships en- 
tering and leaving the port; and this is the 
reason for their obtaining figures about double 
those of the Governor. 

132 thb: colonisation of indo-china. 

This method of calculation is, however, 
deceptive, for Hong-Kong is in no way 
a centre of production ; it is a port of trans- 
it, and a depot for merchandise. The greater 
number of ships entering the port only 
make a few hours' stay, and resume their 
voyage either to Europe or the East. 

And this naturally leads us to the consi- 
deration of the causes which conduce to the 
prosperity of Hong-Kong. 

Its prosperity cannot, so far at any rate, be 
attributed to industry properly so called, al- 
though it possesses a few sugar, rope, glass 
and other factories. The Governor, Sir Wm. 
des Voeux, in his last report expressed the 
opinion that Hong-Kong would become an 
industrial centre, which is by no means im- 
possible. A country possessing an abundance 
of enterprising capital, skilled and docile 
labour, and which has coal within two days' 
journey, may certainly become an industrial 
centre. The raw material will, however, 
always be wanting; it could not be produ- 
ced on the 29 square miles constituting the 
area of the island. Sugar-cane it will procure 
from Swatow and the surrounding country, 
from Quang-Tung or Tonking ; cotton from 
India; rhea fibre from China, or Indo-China, 
and so forth. On the other hand, its 220,000 
inhabitants will not, at any rate for a long 
while, afford it a sufficient market. Under 


these circumstances, the question arises whe- 
ther the purchase of raw material from other 
countries, its transport to Hong-Kong, and 
the re-shipment of the manufactured goods 
to foreign countries will leave a sufficient 
margin of profit. Well, these Hong-Kong 
people are industrious ; if the thing can be 
done, they will do it. 

Nor is the colony's prosperity to be at- 
tributed to local trade, and by ^ local' must 
be understood business transacted either at 
Hong-Kong itself, or in neighbouring French 
or Spanish colonies. With these latter but 
little can be done, while at Hong-Kong the 
population, though considerable and increas- 
ing, is still too small. Of course, a clientele 
numbering 220,000, nearly all of whom are 
earning fair salary and some even very 
wealthy, is not to be despised. But what 
explains easy circumstances does not ac- 
count for wealth, and Hong-Kong is certainly 

The business of Hong-Kong is of two kinds : 
commission and financial transactions. On the 
one hand, the colonists of Hong-Kong act 
as intermediaries between Europe and China 
for a large number of articles ; and, on the 
other, as bankers, furnishing capital to the 
merchants, manufacturers, or planters of the 
entire region. 

Their foreign commercial transactions are 


themselves of a two-fold nature. One class 
of business may be thus summarised : they 
purchase Oriental goods for shipment to 
Europe, and European goods for shipment to 
the East, especially to China : they undertake 
the sale of these goods at their own risk and 
peril, either bringing them to Hong-Kong and 
awaiting a favourable opportunity for their 
sale, or leaving them at the place of produc- 
tion and waiting till there is a demand for 
them. The other class of foreign business 
is as follows : They enter into business re- 
lations with vendors of Chinese products in 
Europe, and with vendors of European pro- 
ducts in China, and supply one or other, 
for sale on commission, with these goods, 
which their knowledge of the markets and 
the centres of production enable them to 
procure at a profitable rate. And they grow 
rich on the small profits thus derived from 
numerous and considerable transactions. 

Hong-Kong may be said to be a ^^port 
of distribution.*' A large portion of the 
goods intended for China, or for Europe, 
are unloaded there, and reshipped for trans- 
mission to their final destination. 

The banking transactions are likewise of 
two descriptions. Either they are banking 
transactions properly so called ; such as, bills 
of exchange, foreign remittances, (in either 
of the two hemispheres), open current ac- 


counts, or advances to merchants; and no 
bankers in any country in the world are 
more obliging, or, as some think, more in- 
cautious. The story is still told in Hong-Kong, 
of a draft for ^160,000 being discounted on 
the sole signature of a man, whose wits by 
far exceeded his worldly goods. Another 
class of banking business consists in invest- 
ments made by bankers and capitalists in 
industrial or landed concerns, and started by 
them either at Hong-Kong itself, or in neigh- 
bouring countries ; such as, Borneo, the Ma- 
lay Peninsula, Tongking, etc. 

Capital is abundant, and almost all busi- 
ness takes the form of Joint-stock Compa- 
nies. Among many others, I may mention 
of those Companies connected with naviga- 
tion, the powerful and prosperous Hong- 
Kong & Whampoa Dock Company with an 
original capital of $1,000,000, which has 
recently been added to ; the Hong-Kong and 
Macao Steamboat Co. with a capital of 
$1,600,000; the Steam Launch Co.; the 
Hong-Kong Marina Co.; the China and 
Manila Steamship Co. : — of those connected 
with land, the Hong-Kong Land Investment 
Co. with a capital of 5 million dollars, the 
half of which only is paid-up ; the Land 
Investment and Agency Co. ; the Kowloon 
Land and Building Co. ; the West Point 
Building Society; the Richmond Terrace 



Estate Co. : — of industrial concerns, the 
New Sugar Refinery, with a capital of 
;^200,000; the China Sugar Co. with a 
capital of $6oo,OOQ; the Luzon Sugar Re- 
finery with a capital of $125,000; the 
Green Island Cement Co. ; the Hong-' 
Kong Brick and Cement Co. with a capi- 
tal of $100,000; the Hong-Kong Steam 
Laundry Co. ; the Hong-Kong Ice Co. ; 
the Hong-Kong Rope Manufacturing Co. 
with a capital of $150^000; the Hong-Kong 
Hotel Co. ; the Hong-Kong Electric Co. ; 
the firms of Geo. Fenwick and Co., Cruik- 
shank and Co., Gordon and Co., H. G. 
Brown and Co., Campbell, Moore and Co., 
A. S. Watson and Co. ; — the China Fire 
Insurance Co. with a capital of $2,000,000; 
the Hong-Kong Fire Insurance Co. with 
a capital of $2,000,000; the Union Insurance 
Society of Canton with a capital of 
$1,250,000, etc.:' — of foreign enterprises 
floated at Hong-Kong, the Compagnie des 
Charbonnages de Hone Gay (Tonking), with 
a capital of fr. 4,000,000, the shares of 
which, issued at fr. 500, are now worth 

* The simple fact of the existence of Insurance Com- 
panies in these countries of the Far East, indicates that 
considerable progress has been made in the civilisation, 
the public safety, and the wealth of the country. Mud 
huts have been replaced by houses constructed of solid 
materials ; foreign wars, insurrections, piracy, have ceased ; 
and lastly, a vigilant body of police is on regular duty. 


more than fr. 1,500; the Balmoral Gold 
Mining Co. ; the East Borneo Planting 
Co. ; the Labuk Planting Co. ; the 
Punjom arid Sunghie Mining Co. ; the 
Songei Koyah and Lamag Planting Co. ; 
the Darvel Bay Trading Co., etc., etc. 

The enthusiasm displayed for this class of 
business is so great that, according to an 
official document, the number of these con- 
cerns is continually increasing. At the 
close of 1887, there were 26 joint-stock 
companies, with a paid-up capital of 
$26,233,000, representing, at the Hong-Kong 
Stock Exchange quotation, a value of 
$46,870,125. At the close of 1888, there 
were 36, with a paid-up capital of 
$28,867,640, representing, at the current 
quotation on the Hong-Kong Stock Exchange, 
a value of $53,951,525. Lastly, at the close 
of 1889, there were 54, with a paid-up capital 
of $44,074,950, worth on the Stock Ex- 
change $77,200,550: I, e.y in the course of 
3 years the Companies showed an increase 
of 28, their paid-up capital of $17,841,950, 
their value on Change of $30,330,425. 

To these industrial, or land companies, 
must be added the financial undertakings 
which have preceded them, and which to 
a certain extent have created, and supported 
them. Hong-Kong possesses several impor- 
tant banks : The Australia and China Bank, 


The New Oriental. Bank, the London and 
China Bank, the Hong-Kong and Shanghai 
Bank. The last named is a first-class insti- 
tution which rivals the leading banks of the 
West. Its paid-up capital is $7,500,000; 
its reserve fund exceeds $5,000,000; its 
notes in circulation exceed 3 millions, and 
its deposits 75 millions. 

It is these banks, these companies, this 
equipment, which have given Hong-Kong the 
powerful position which it occupies on these 
coasts. Its distance from England is thirty 
days; from San Francisco, twenty days; from 
Australia and Pekin, three weeks ; from Singa- 
pore and Japan, fifteen days, and from 
Shanghai, three days. It lies near the large 
islands of Oceania, and in close proximity 
to Indo-China, and is connected with the 
whole world by steam-communication, and 
submarine cables ; it is, moreover, contigu- 
ous to China, over which it exercises, both 
politically and commercially, an indisputable 
influence. It has therefore become what, 
from the first hour, the British hoped for : 
a point where the common interests of 
Europe (and especially those of England) 
and China can meet in conference, a great 
international market, an * emporium.' 

Nay, more ; it has even become a pos- 
sible place of residence where existence is 
more than tolerable, where it is almost 


agreeable, so successfully has the rigour of 
its climate been combated by the varied 
resources of engineering science, and the 
refining influences of civilisation. 

The life of a rich colonist at Hong-Kong, 
were it not for the enervating heat of sum- 
mer, would satisfy the most delicate native 
of the West. 

His house stands amidst shady terraces 
on the mountain-slope. At a glance he takes 
in the roadstead, in a trice he is at the 
harbour. Rapidly conveyed by his chair- 
bearers along leafy and fragrant avenues, 
absently conning one of the excellent papers 
issued by the local press, he descends in 
the morning to the business quarter; his 
compradore or broker has preceded, and 
awaits him there. Looking through his pile 
of letters, he gives his orders, and telegraphs 
to London or to Shanghai; then, combining 
business with pleasure, he strolls along the 
quays or across the cool and busy streets 
to the bank, or the Council Chamber. For 
in every enterprise he has a share, his acu- 
men and caution are well-known, and his 
name and advice are even in greater request 
than his capital. 

One o'clock chimes from the Clock Tower; 
dinner-time draws near, and he reascends to 
his house. A few friends have been invited 
beforehand, and their number is swelled by 


Others picked up at the last moment. They 
were to have been a party of six, now they 
are twelve ; no matter. The table is large ; 
the hospitality munificent. A word to the 
Chinese ^ butler ' has sufficed ; everything is 
ready: the covers laid, the chairs moved up 
to the table, the champagne iced. 

In the afternoon, there is a renewed so- 
journ in work-a-day Hong-Kong. The day 
is short, for business closes at 5 o'clock. 
No time to lose therefore, unless our friend 
be an Honourable Privy Councillor and the 
Council has no sitting, or unless he be a mem- 
ber of the Jockey Club, the Polo Club, or 
the Football Club, and there are no races, 
regattas, or shooting matches between the 
Shanghai and the Hong-Kong Volunteer for- 
ces^ no tennis matches between the ladies 
of Victoria and those of Singapore, nor 
cricket matches between the Artillery and 
Board of Health. 

At 7 o'clock all is over; night is coming 
on, and supper-time arrives. Supper is taken 
either at home or at the Club. The Clubs 
— at least those whose entry is not strictly 
reserved — are excellent, the society select, 
the table exquisite, the library well-stocked, 
and furnished with all the newspapers of the 

As to spending the evening, it is simply 
a matter of choice. To-day, there may be 


a reception of the Freemasons of the island 
either at the Zetland, the St John's, or the 
Victoria Lodge ; or his Excellency, deserting 
the Peak for the plains, throws open the 
reception-rooms of Government House; or 
perhaps there is a ball at the City Hall. 
The Theatrical Company of the Deccan may 
be giving a performance, or the Hung Tung 
Theatre may offer attractions, or — a still 
more dainty treat — there may be a lecture 
at the rooms of the Literary Society. 

Sometimes a more stirring event oc- 
curs; such as, the inauguration of the statue 
of the Queen, the arrival of the Duke and 
Duchess of Connaught, or of the Russian 
heir-apparent; the Jubilee of the Colony, or 
a fete in honour of tourists from Singapore, 
India, London, or even America, and the 
greater the distance they hail from, the 
greater the efforts that are made to prove 
to them that no nation in the world can 
rival Hong-Kong in hospitality. 

Thus life glides on, varied, rapid, happy 
and useful. After three or four years, the 
colonist seeks renewed vigour by a visit to 
Old England, and in fifteen to twenty years* 
time he finally retires to his native country, 
a rich man. His hard-earned riches com- 
mand respect, and for the future he follows 
attentively and indulgently, and at the same 
time encourages, the efforts of those who. 


in their turn, are doing their utmost with 
dauntless energy and with the utmost faith 
in their ultimate success, to raise to so high 
a pinnacle of glory the fortunes of the 
Anglo-Saxon race. 







Burma and its resources — Its situation between India 
and China — Advantages which it offers to a 
European nation — Causes which led to its annexa- 
tion by Great Britain — Rapidity of its conquest. 

Burma, even at the present day, is but 
imperfectly known. According to the cen- 
sus taken in 1891 under the direction of 
Mr. Eales, its population numbers about 8 
millions ; namely, 4 J millions in Lower Burma, 
31 millions in Upper Burma, and 376,000 in 
the Shan states. But these figures still leave 
room for much uncertainty ; the fact being 
that, in spite of the sea and the mountain- 

' The following essay has been greatly facilitated by 
the extreme kindness of Lord Lytton, and Lord Duf- 


chains which form its natural frontiers, 
the boundaries of Burma are not yet defini- 
tely fixed. 

As a permanent result of the events of 
1885, Burma (without distinctive epithet) 
comprises four subdivisions. One, the south- 
ern portion, was formerly known as British 
Burma ; the other three formed the indepen- 
dent Kingdom of Burma, and consisted of, 
in the centre, Burma proper, inhabited chiefly 
by Burmese, and by the descendants of abo- 
riginal races ; to the north and north-west. 
Northern Burma, inhabited by various and 
sparsely scattered races, called Singphos, 
Shans, etc., more or less subject to Burmese 
rule ; and lastly, to the east and north-east, 
in the direction of Siam and Cambodia, the 
tributary states peopled by races called Lao- 
tians or Shans. ^ These States, both from 
their territory and their population, are of 

fering, of Mr. Austin Lee of the British Embassy at 
Paris, of Mr. Herbert of the India Office, of M. Harmand, 
Minister Plenipotentiary, who was for a long while Con- 
sul General for France at Calcutta, and lastly, of M. 
Pilinski, French Consul at Rangoon ; we are desirous of 
expressing to all of them our sincere thanks. 

' On the geography of these States see the "Report 
on a Journey in the Me-kong Valley" by Mr J.Archer, 
member of the British Consular Corps of Siam (Febru- 
ary 1892) C. 6558; and on the political question see 
Lord Lamington's speech of the loth February 1892, of 
which the *Debats' of the i8th February gave an ex- 
cellent resumi. 


considerable extent, and the British do not 
scruple to appropriate the lion's share ; but 
others may claim a portion. For this rea- 
son it is impossible to describe definitely and 
accurately the boundaries of Burma. 

Viewed from a geographical, as well as 
from a hydrographical point of view, the 
country presents peculiarities assuredly wor- 
thy of attention; but the chief point of in- 
terest for European nations lies in the fact of 
its being situated between India and China. 
Indeed it borders on both of these countries^ 
and although separated from both by lofty 
mountain-chains, the sea and mountain passes 
connect it with the former, and rivers with 
moderate currents which take their rise in 
the higher regions of Tibet, with the latter. 

If we examine the orographic system of 
this region, without entering into the end- 
less variety of mountain-chains and isolated 
peaks, we shall find that to the south of the 
Himalayas there is a range running almost 
in a parallel direction and extending east- 
wards, which at successive stages assumes 
the names of the Assam Mts., the Patkoi 
Mts., the Langtang Mts., etc. Now, the 
projection from these mountains of a suc- 
cession of spurs towards the south gives this 
region its peculiar character, separating 
Burma, on the left, from India, and on the 
right, from China ; on other sides their double 


and triple ranges of parallel chains traverse 
almost the entire length of Indo-China, divi- 
ding it into so many valleys through which 
rivers flow towards the sea. In this region 
a number of rivers take their rise : the Chind- 
win, the Irrawaddy, the Sittang, the Salwen, 
the Menam, the Me-kong; and, further 
westward, the rivers of Annam, and the famous 
Red River. 

Washed by the sea, traversed by nume- 
rous rivers, the majority of which were nav- 
igable, surrounded by mountains serving at 
once as a restraint on the ambition of its 
own inhabitants, and as a protection from 
that of other peoples, Burma, rich in the 
fertility of 'its soil and the treasures of its 
sub-soil, seemed destined to a peaceable and 
happy existence; but various circumstances, 
due to natural as well as human agency, 
conduced to shape its destiny otherwise. 

Of Burma may be said what was said of 
Italy, that it is a * geographical expression*. 
Its territory has been patched together piece- 
meal, its various races have been forcibly 

The Burmese race, properly so called, is 
lost amid clans of the most diverse nomen- 
clature which considerably outnumber it. 
These tribes — the Kyens, the Katchinese, 
the Shans, etc., — inhabit the mountains, whilst 
the Burmese occupy the plains. 


People dwelling in plains at the foot of 
high mountains, have singular characteristics. 
Irritated by the impenetrable and ever-pre- 
sent veil dividing them from the rest of the 
world, they are tempted to try their fortunes 
beyond. The mountains of Burma, which 
divide the country into a series of longitudi- 
nal sections, were of a nature to rouse the 
curiosity of its inhabitants. 

They surmounted all the peaks in succes- 
sion, explored all the valleys, subduing their 
inhabitants and, according to circumstances, 
either annexing their lands or imposing a 
tribute. Among these peoples were some 
who lived to the north or north-west : the 
people of Assam, for instance, who were 
separated from the Burmese by the Patkoi 
Mts. Their territory was repeatedly invaded 
by the Burmese and when, at a later 
period, Assam became a province of India, 
the British did not forget the fact that the 
Patkoi Mts. furnished a means of ingress 
from Burma into their territory, or, inversely, 
a means of egress from their own into 
Burma. The same thing happened on the 
west, on the side of Chittagong, Tipara, 
and Bengal. The Burmese took upon them- 
selves the task of teaching their neighbours 
that their house-door was insecurely fastened. 

To this circumstance which boded them 
no good must be added another. 


A considerable portion of their territory 
is, as we have said, washed by the sea into 
which several large rivers flow : the Irrawaddy 
which, with its many mouths, forms a vast 
delta ; the Sittang to which, by reason of 
its wide mouth, excessive importance has 
been attached; and lastly, the Salwen. For 
half a century or more these rivers have 
afforded an inaccurate opinion. It was thought 
that they would be the means of penetrating 
far into the interior of the adjoining countries 
— those flowing near the British frontier into 
the region whence the Indian river, the Brah- 
maputra, takes its rise ; the others, beyond the 
Chinese frontier, into Tibet, perhaps even 
to Yunnan, or still farther north to Su-Chow. 
If this were so, it became evident that the 
people who held both the river-banks which 
were in so close proximity to Bengal, and 
the rivers themselves which formed the great 
water-ways of India and China could either 
cause uneasiness to the British in their In- 
dian possessions, or secure a route to the 
fair southern provinces of the Celestial 

If we add that Burma is rich in resources 
of all kinds ; that from a period considerably 
anterior to the 15th century, it has traded 
with the whole of Southern Asia and the 
Malay Peninsula; that, lastly, it levied from 
a host of tribes tributes which might assu- 


redly, in their case, be disputed, but which, 
if claimed by a great power, might become 
indisputable, the desire of the British to 
annex Burma may readily be understood. 

Nevertheless, England hesitated for a long 
time. Burma had as exaggerated a reputation 
for its power as for its riches, but closer 
acquaintance soon dispelled this prestige. 
Towards the close of the i8th century, 
however, at which time the British began to 
devote more attention to Burmese affairs, 
this prestige was still almost intact. Now, 
just at the close of the i8th century Eng- 
land had quite enough difficulties in India, and 
America to make her chary of seeking to add 
to their number. And thus to keep her hands 
off Burma until the right moment had arrived, 
was both in her interests and intentions. 

For thirty years and more England bided 
her time. The Burmese, mistaking her pru- 
dence for weakness, were lavish of provoca- 
tions, which, however, she apparently treated 
with indifference. On the contrary, she ma- 
nifested an increased anxiety to conciliate 
them by redoubling her missions and embas- 
sies, and by endeavouring to accredit resi- 
dents, etc. Her apparent forbearance deceived 
no one. "It is certain," says the French tra- 
veller, Sonnerat,^ "that the British will one 
day endeavour to annex Pegu/* And, in 

* "Voyage aux Indes Orientales, 1774 — 1781." 



reality, as soon as Europe allowed them a res- 
pite, at the first insult of the Burmese Courts 
which has surpassed all Asiatic Courts in 
pride and folly, and on the pretext of giving 
Bengal a more scientific frontier, they laid 
their powerful hand on the long-coveted prey. 
Not to mention various other advantages, 
they compelled the Burmese to cede to them 
the provinces of Arakan, Yau, Tavoy, Mergui, 
and Tenasserim, thus establishing themselves 
simultaneously, with their repeatedly pJroved 
skill and foresight, at two points of primary 
importance, and closing two of the possible 
routes to India or China. (Expedition of 1825 ; 
treaty of Yandabo, 24th February 1826). 

This but served to whet their appetite. 
Later, after a delay which was deemed suf- 
ficient^ and as the imprudent Court of Ava, in 
defiance of the treaty which had been signed, 
continued its bravado and its provocations, 
a fresh expedition deprived it of its remain- 
ing southern provinces, definitively separat- 
ing it from the sea, and carrying back its 
southern frontier to beyond the 19th degree 
of north latitude. (Expedition commenced 
in January 1852; annexation proclaimed on 
20th December of same year). 

From this moment, the Kingdom of Ava 
could no longer hope to escape from the 
clutches of its formidable neighbour. Its 
new frontier, a mere line drawn on paper. 


could no longer protect it; it was at the 
mercy of the enemy. England, whilst con- 
tinuing to disclaim all idea of conquest, was 
only awaiting her opportunity. No one 
doubted it. In 1880, a British officer, Colo- 
nel W. F. B. Laurie, author of ^^ Our Bur- 
mese Wars," wrote : ^Trobably before long a 
King of Burma will have ceased to exist." 

A blunder on the part of this king at 
last delivered him into the hands of his ene- 
mies. For some years past he had seen the 
danger growing, and had sought everywhere 
not for allies, but for protectors. This atti- 
tude disquieted England. He had sent an 
embassy to France, and Italy: this embassy 
neglected to pay a visit to London. He 
concluded a treaty with France which was 
a mere treaty of commerce and friendship : 
it was regarded by England as a treaty of 
alliance. A French Agent was installed in 
the new capital. The cry arose that he was 
about to control the policy of the kingdom. 
From that date the conquest was resolved on. 

The fruit was, moreover, ripe ; it was not 
even necessary to pluck it : it fell of its 
accord. For a long time past the British 
residents of Lower Burma, notably the Ran- 
goon Chamber of Commerce, had been most 
urgent in their requests that the Government 
of India should intervene in the affairs of 
the kingdom. The revolting massacre of 


nearly all the members of the Royal family, 
the flight of an immense number of panic- 
stricken inhabitants and, lastly, foolish quib- 
bles with an English Company which was 
exploiting the forest, — the Bombay-Burma 
Trading Corporation, — furnished the oppor- 
tunity sought for. The Government of India 
sent King Theebaw an ultimatum which he 
could not possibly accept. Immediately, 
British troops crossed the frontier (1885). 

The expedition was conducted with almost 
unprecedented rapidity. By the 25th Sep- 
tember, both troops and ships had all left 
Rangoon, and the Chief Commissioner, Mr. 
Bernard, foreseeing complications at hand, 
had to take upon himself the responsibility 
of detaining a gun-boat under orders to 
return to India. On the 17th October, the 
Secretary of State telegraphed from London 
to the Viceroy recommending him to send 
troops to Rangoon simultaneously with the 
presentation of his ultimatum to King Theebaw. 
On the I oth November, General Prendergast 
marched on Mandalay; on the ist December, 
he entered the town and took the king 
prisoner; on the 2nd, he sent him captive 
to Rangoon, whence he was escorted to 
India. The entire country lay open to the 
conqueror ; the ancient kingdom of Burma had 
ceased to exist. The expedition proper had 
been brought to a conclusion in three weeks. 



c' The period immediately succeeding the conquest — 

c The insurrection in Upper and Lower Burma 

K — Character of the insurrection — The dacoits — 

Pacification by military measures — Facilities 

afforded to the British by the organisation^ and 

• proximity of India — The standing army — The 

police: civil and military. 


On the I st December, Queen Victoria sent 
a telegram to the Viceroy of India thus 
worded: *4 beg you to express my warm 
thanks to General Prendergast, and my ad- 
miration of the skill with which he has con- 
ducted the expedition throughout.'' This 
message from the Queen gave grounds for 
the supposition that now that the enemy had 
been defeated, the army disbanded, and the 
king taken prisoner, matters were settled. 
And the supposition was universally shared, 
for a short time at least. But this optimism 
was soon followed, as an eye-witness says, 


^^ by the opinion that matters were still in a 
sad state of uncertainty/' And men of 
experience saw plainly, as Lieut. -Colonel A. 
R. Gloag wrote in a letter to the ^' Times'' of 
1 2th September 1888, that the entire sub- 
jugation of the country would be a lengthy 
affair, and that the taking of Mandalay was 
merely the beginning, and not the finale. 
The war of 1824 had lasted for two years, 
but no less than five years had been requir- 
ed to re-establish order in the annexed 
provinces. That of 1852 had been of short- 
er duration : begun in January, it was 
brought to a conclusion in December; but 
the subsequent pacification of the country 
occupied eight years. How long a period 
would be required this time, after a three 
weeks' campaign? Even persons of expe- 
rience, and such as apprehended possible, 
nay, inevitable troubles, under-estimated 
the length of time the work of pacification 
would last. 

At the outset, thanks to the adoption of 
what were as a rule good measures, hopes 
were entertained of localising the disturban- 
ces in Upper Burma, and for a time this 
was successfully accomplished. But, in order 
to keep Upper Burma in check, it was found 
necessary to draw largely on the troops of 
Lower Burma, with the result that the latter, in 
turn, revolted. A mere relative degree of 


tranquillity was only restored there by a 
resort to most rigorous measures; such as, 
expeditions against the bands of dacoits, 
setting a price on the heads of their leaders, 
merciless repression ; and even then it was 
not until May and June 1887 that an ame- 
lioration began to be perceptible, and not 
until the close of 1888 that it was clearly 

The native inhabitants of British Burma 
having long been accustomed to strict govern- 
ment, were brought back to their allegiance 
easily enough. Towards the middle of Sep- 
tember it was ascertained that not one of 
the prisoners then in jail spoke English — 
proof positive that they must all be natives 
of the new provinces. But whilst in the 
south tranquillity was gradually being restor- 
ed, in the north the insurrection was appar- 
ently becoming envenomed. 

In 1888, after three years of unabated 
efforts, the official bulletins^ though meagre 
enough, were more alarming than ever. The 
entire district of Mandalay was a prey to 
fire and sword : for the space of three 
months conflagrations were of almost nightly 
occurrence ; the telegraph wires were torn 
down; the works on the railroad from Tun- 
gu to Mandalay which was then in course of 
construction were menaced ; even the Lower- 
Burma line (Rangoon-Prome) was seized at 


Segu, a few hundred miles below Prome ; 
the bands of dacoits were mustering afresh 
and, assuming the offensive, were success- 
fully attacking posts occupied by the police 
and the regular troops. And "affairs" of 
this kind were of such frequent occurrence 
that the Correspondent of the " Times ^^ 
wrote to that paper on the 5th May 1888: 
"It is impossible to give particulars of the 
numerous encounters with ^ dacoits ' which 
have recently taken place." 

These * dacoits ' correspond exactly to what 
the French call ^ pirates ' at Tong-King. They 
do not form a separate class of the popula- 
tion, but are recruited from all classes ; they 
are, indeed, the population. Properly speak- 
ing, they are neither brigands nor patriots, 
though both are to be met with amongst 
them, but are usually peasants who, 
under ordinary circumstances, cultivate their 
fields, (though they have no particular affec- 
tion for this kind of work), but who, in 
time of trouble, and impoverished, if not 
ruined, think it fit, and find it agreeable, 
to try their luck at fighting and pillaging. 
They attack and rob both natives and 
Europeans without drawing too fine a dis- 
tinction; and, indeed, they prefer the for- 
mer, because they are neither so well armed 
nor so formidable as antagonists. Besides 
this, in attacking natives, they have every- 


thing to gain: stripped of all their posses- 
sions and with no other prospect before 
them but starvation, their victims of 
yesterday are forced to become their 
comrades of to-day. Thus the ranks of 
the victors are recruited by their victims. 
Nor are the latter by any means reluctant 
to exchange the hoe for the pike. Rob- 
bery (* piraterie '), or ' dacoity ' as the English 
call it, is not a dishonourable occupation in 
their eyes : it appears to them quite na- 
tural, and even excusable in time of civil 
war; and, were a young man to decline 
to take part in it, he would be considered 
as wanting not only in courage, but in com- 
mon-sense as well. 

The above description applies to the or- 
dinary ^ dacoit ' of Burma, or ^ pirate ' of Tong- 
King. Sometimes, under the influence of 
more distinguished leaders, or under circum- 
stances of peculiar gravity, they rise from 
the level of pillagers to that of patriots. 
This occurred in Annam proper. The insur- 
rection there at once assumed a national 
character ; under the leadership of Manda- 
rins of high rank, the ^ pirates ' (for this name 
was still thought most applicable) intend- 
ed, above all, to drive the French out of 
their native country ; this did not, how- 
ever, prevent them from pillaging, in 
their leisure moments, the people with 


whom they came in contact on their Hne 
of march. 

The same thing happened in Burma. At 
a certain epoch, resistance which up till 
then had been little more than a pillaging 
foray, became a political and patriotic task. 
The dacoits formed themselves into large 
bands, led by able chieftains; the struggle 
assumed the character of guerilla warfare ; 
dacoity became a hostile movement of the 
population, — '^a popular resistance to our 
rule in Burma such as we had never expe- 
rienced in any part of India, and such as 
will call for the presence of a strong garri- 
son for many years.*' ^ 

Now dacoits are a class of enemy that, i 

though not exactly dangerous, is peculiarly ^ 

troublesome to European troops. No foe is 
more irregular in its action, none more in- 
tangible. For instance, a district, that of 
Tavoy, satisfactorily administered and free 
from any disturbance for two consecutive 
years, suddenly revolts without any known 
pretext (February 1888). Another, where a 
certain amount of fermentation was still in 
existence, takes up arms and attacks the 1 

British, two officers being killed. A column 
commanded by a Colonel (Col. Symons) 

* "Problems of Greater Britain." By Sir Charles Dilke, 
Vol II, p. 6. 


hurries to avenge their death : the culprits 
are nowhere to Be found, not even a trace 
of agitation is apparent; for six weeks the 
column fruitlessly scours the country, and 
eventually retires without having accomplish- 
ed its object. The plan was originated of 
forming columns of from 50 to 100 men 
each, and sending them in pursuit, or, at 
any rate, in search of the dacoits. Almost 
invariably both search and pursuit proved 
fruitless. The dacoits fled, taking advantage 
of the shortest routes, and sought refuge in 
inaccessible localities, or in friendly villages ; 
there they laid aside their arms, mixed with 
the inhabitants, and took part in their occu- 
pation, no one could have recognised them, 
and no one would have dared to betray 

No sooner did the rains cease than dacoity 
immediately increased. The bands amalga- 
mated, the chief of highest repute took the 
lead. Some of these chiefs were famous : 
for instance, Boshway, caught and executed 
in October 1887, and who was in some 
measure the last of the great chiefs. 
They possessed a marvellous influence 
over the people. At their call, the young 
men flocked to their standard. The late 
Royal family made the most of this en- 
thusiasm. Almost at one and the same 
time five or six authentic princes were 


going the round. On the other hand, any 
ambitious individual who chose to assume 
the title of this or that prince, had no 
difficulty in instigating an insurrection in 
his district. 

Such, rapidly sketched, were the chief dif- 
ficulties with which the British had to con- 
tend during the period from 1885 to 1888, 
in Lower and especially Upper Burma, and 
which they had first of all to surmount. 
There could be no question of organisation 
or improvements until the country had been 
restored to peace and security, or until peace- 
ably inclined folk were at liberty to obey 
the laws, without thereby imperilling their 
life or their property. To-day, the work is 
still incomplete. Nearly the whole of 1889, 
and the years 1890 to 1892, in spite of 
prosperous seasons, witnessed more distur- 
bances, and more expeditions than would 
have been thought possible in 1888. And 
a considerable period must yet elapse before 
it will be possible to dispense with — if not 
actual campaigns — at least military parades 
through the mountainous regions and border 
lands inhabited by the turbulent tribes. 
Such expeditions are not accomplished in a 
day, and besides this, the British have on 
more than one occasion cancelled the results 
they had attained by a subsequent mistaken 
course of action, of which we shall give some 


instances in a subsequent chapter. Nev- 
ertheless, important progress has been 
made, and it will be interesting as well 
as useful to consider the processes and 
methods which have proved conducive to the 

But before entering into these particulars, 
it is important not to forget that the British 
were favoured by exceptional facilities in 
the task they were about to undertake. 
Lower Burma had already been a British 
possession, certain portions for sixty, others 
for thirty years past, and was organised on 
the Indian administrative system. The same 
Commissioner had control over both sections 
of the province : in dealing with the new 
territory, he had all the resources of the 
old at his disposal. ^ 

Again, Burma was a province of India and 
not of England, just as the Commissioner was 
the Agent of the Indian and not of the British 
Government. And India was near at hand, 
rich in resources, in troops and in officials. 
At its head was a Council invested with 
wide powers, which thanks to the liberal 
spirit of successive Secretaries of State for 

* This did not hinder the perpetration of many blun- 
ders. Notably the management of the commissariat de- 
partment from beginning to end, and up to March 1891, 
(see the '-Times'' of 24th March), gave rise to criticisms 
which were apparently well-founded. 


India have been still further extended ; ^ last- 
ly, presiding over this Council in his capa- 
city of Viceroy and Governor-General was 
a man of broad views, rare judgment and 
ready decision, — Lord Dufferin, — who owes his 
title of Marquis of Ava to his successful 
policy in Burma. All these circumstances, 
of which assuredly the most important was 
that the decisions emanated, not from Lon- 
don, but from Rangoon, Calcutta or Simla, 
and from men who had a knowledge of the 
situation and its necessities ; — all these cir- 
cumstances which no other country could 
have possessed in combination, facilitated the 
task of conquest, of pacification, and of or- 
ganisation, though this should not lessen our 
estimate of their merit. 

A country cannot be conquered or paci- 
fied by the mere discharge of cannon shots 
or the mere issue of decrees alone. Both 
are requisite, simultaneously as well as suc- 
cessively. Their effect commingles and 
combines, and as regards the final result. 

^ "Her Majesty's Government is desirous of according 
to your Excellency a large measure of liberty in regard 
to the precise methods which you may deem suitable 
for the reorganisation of the government of Upper Burma. 
Your Excellency will, in due course, have to decide 
what number of troops may be necessary for the main- 
tenance of peace, and for the suppression of the bands 
of dacoits." (Despatch of Lord Randolph Churchill to 
Lord Dufferin, 31st December 1885). 



he would be a rash person who would ven- 
ture to discriminate between the degree of 
credit due respectively to the military man, 
and statesman. Our researches will, how- 
ever, be facilitated, and their utility enhan- 
ced, if we consider apart the political and 
the military measures. 

If we examine the measures adopted by 
the British for the pacification of Burma 
from the military standpoint only, we shall 
find that they amount to this : that they had 
at hand, at the right moment, a sufficient 
force of troops fitted for the task both by 
nature and qualifications, and also a suffi- 
cient number of commanding officers whose 
experience was of the sort which the coun- 
try required. 

Here again, be it said, the British were 
in luck. They drew the greater portion of 
the forces employed in Burma from India. 
Now, on the one hand, India was then in a 
state of absolute tranquillity and could spare 
from her usual effective force as many troops 
as were deemed requisite, and again, these 
troops of the Indian army had lived in a 
climate and manoeuvred in a country similar 
to that they had to encounter in the val- 
leys of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin, or 
on the slopes of the Burmese mountains. 
Lastly, the generals who were placed at the 
head of the expedition had themselves also 


served in India and were actually holdin|r 
commands in that country when ordered to 
proceed to Burma. 

All this made the task easier. And yet 
the ability to decide at the right moment 
on the necessary sacrifices, and even to ap- 
point men to the precise post for which 
they are fitted, is a talent which is by no 
means ordinarily met with. In both these 
respects the British, despite some small 
errors in the details, were skilful, or for- 

Several generals successively held the com- 
mand in Burma. I have already mention- 
ed the name of the general who is now 
Sir Henry Prendergast : others might be 
named : General White, General Gordon, 
General Faunce, General Wolseley. All of 
these, and notably General White who held 
the command for a considerable length of 
time, rendered good service. But there is 
one general, who exercised a very decided 
influence on the pacification of Burma^ I allude 
to General Roberts. 

Sir Frederick (now Lord) Roberts held at 
that time the high position of Commander- 
in-Chief of the Indian Forces, besides being 
a member of the Viceregal Council. Lord 
Dufferin requested him to temporarily vacate 
his post, in order to assume supreme com- 
mand of the Burmese expeditionary force : 


he accepted. This twofold decision denoted 
courage. At this moment, people both in 
England and in India were becoming weary 
of the Burmese Question, and the post of the 
general commanding was consequently the 
more dangerous. Nor was this all. The 
British have always been chary of subordin- 
ating civil to military authorities. Now, if a 
man of the status of Sir Frederick, and a 
Chief Commissioner of even Mr. Bernard's 
capacity were brought face to face, it was 
evident that, in spite of every precedent and 
of all possible instructions, the great moral 
authority would remain with the general, 
and that in the event of a difference of 
opinion, he would have the last word. Not- 
withstanding the possible gravity of these 
circumstances, Lord Dufferin did not hesi- 
tate to offer Sir Frederick, nor he to accept, 
the command in Burma. This choice which 
might have entailed great inconvenience, in 
reality entailed none whatever. And yet, 
when Sir Frederick's mission came to an end, 
something like a feeling of relief was expe- 
rienced, though he had fulfilled to the utmost 
all that was expected of him. '^He has,*' 
the Times correspondent wrote (8th Fe- 
bruary 1887), ^^ justified the exception to the 
ordinary routine, which sent him on a mis- 
sion far from the usual ground of a Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Indian Forces.'* 



The chief service rendered by General 
Roberts — though he did not wait till the 
Burmese difficulty arose to do so — was that 
of giving, with Lord Dufferin's assent, the 
generals under his orders as many troops 
as they required, and even more. — Not but 
what, on several occasions, so recently indeed 
as 1890, the error was committed of denud- 
ing certain districts where the insurrection 
was scarcely suppressed. However, errors 
of this sort could not be, and generally 
speaking were not, of much ultimate impor- 

For the expedition itself, a few thousand 
men had sufficed. After the occupation of 
Mandalay and the capture of the king, it 
was hoped that a portion of the troops 
might be recalled. But Lord Dufferin, who 
from the day that he entered Burma had 
an extraordinarily clear perception of the 
exigencies of the situation, instead of de- 
creasing, augmented their number. Indeed, 
the march on Bhamo was still to come, the 
pursuit of the dacoits, the occupation of the 
entire country had to be accomplished; the 
latter task eventually necessitated small ex- 
peditionary corps, flying columns, and sta- 
tionary posts. Consequently, the army was 
at once increased to 1 1 ,000 men, and a little 
later, to 14,000. Towards the middle of 
1886 there were 17,000 in Upper, and 7,200 


in Lower Burma, and this number still 
appeared insufficient. '^Itis evident," wrote 
General Roberts to the Indian Govern- 
ment, ^*that to carry out the plans indicated 
by General White there is not a man too 
many in Burma; indeed, it appears to me 
that certain districts are not occupied in suf- 
ficient force. At this season of the year 
(30th July) it is impossible to send reinforce- 
ments; but I would strongly urge that rein- 
forcements and transports be got ready so 
as to reach Rangoon by about the 15 th 
October, by which time General White will 
find his force diminished by casualties and 

And this was done. However, less than 
two years later, while the country was still 
far from being pacified the regular troops 
(Indian and European) were reduced to under 
10,000 men, of whom only a few thousand 
were Europeans. This considerable decrease 
must not be taken as indicating a condemnation 
of the errors hitherto committed, nor was it 
an imprudent concession to public opinion. 

As a matter of fact, there, occurred in 
Burma what has occurred in other count- 
ries, and notably in Tongking. Time and 
the progress made by the conquerors 
has effected a change in the character, 
and conditions of the struggle. The large 
bands have been dispersed, or split up. Alf 


real combatants, all those capable of sustain- 
ing the onslaught of British troops have been 
driven far away from the inhabited centres 
into a corner, either on the frontier or in 
some inaccessible spot. Since then, it has 
been found possible to reduce the number 
of stationary posts in the interior. Of these, 
there were 150 in 1887; some thirty have 
been retained. The duty of these regular 
troops consists in little more than keeping 
a watch over the inhabitants. Quartered 
in the towns or at points chosen for their 
strategic value, their influence lies chiefly 
in their presence, and their prestige. As 
to the pillagers and marauders who are at 
present the only hostile forces to be feared, 
and who are only formidable on account of 
their numbers, another body of men is now 
charged with their suppression, viz., the 
mounted infantry and the police. 

The mounted infantry which for a short 
time numbered 1800 men, now numbers 
1200; its name sufficiently indicates its nature. 

The police-force though dating from 1886, 
was not, strictly speaking, organised until 
1887. The work that remained to be done 
was no longer soldiers', but police work; all 
that was now necessary was the maintenance 
of order, and to afford the people protection 
from dacoits whether they came singly or 
in bands. This is a task which pertains to 


police ; and European troops would be no 
more capable of rendering them efficient 
assistance than would a battery of artillery 
of helping the gendarmes in Paris. "The sol- 
dier," Lord Dufferin wrote at the time, *4s but 
the pioneer of order ; the permanent guar- 
dian of public tranquillity is the policeman.'* 
In consequence, the police was organised. 

It is a fact worthy of remark, as indicating 
what a sense of the requirements of govern- 
ment our neighbours possess, that the mili- 
tary whose importance was thereby dimin- 
ished, not only concurred in the utility of 
creating this force, but even assumed the 
initiative in the matter. ** Unless," wrote 
General Roberts (6th February 1887) ** a 
body of police is organised on a strong 
footing, our prospects of pacifying the coun- 
try are but very remote.'* And another 
document affirms that the civil and military 
authorities unanimously agreed that the time 
had arrived for police to occupy by degrees 
numerous posts in Upper Burma, and to take 
charge of the country. 

There were to be two kinds of police : a 
civil force which would be under the orders 
of native officials, and would maintain secu- 
rity in the districts under their control — an 
arrangement which was not effected without 
some opposition on the part of certain offi- 
cers, and a military force strongly officered 


by Europeans, whose duty was to occupy 
certain posts in the interior, to prevent a 
concentration of the dacoits, and, in short, 
to clear the country of them. Both forces 
were recruited for the most part from India 
among certain warHke tribes, ^ and also, af- 
ter considerable hesitation, among the Bur- 
mese, notwithstanding the distrust entertained 
of their integrity and reliability. In 1887, 
it was estimated that a force of about 1 6,000 
was required; at the outset, however, their 
number was only 9,000, which was subse- 
quently increased to 1 1 ,000. At the close 
of the year 1888, the force exceeded the 
estimated requirements, their number being 
20,000; and General Stedman, their com- 
mander in Upper Burma, stated that their 
strength was still inadequate. This led to a 
further increase, and in 1889 the police 
numbered 35,000 men, of whom 15,000 be- 
longed to the civil, and 20,000 to the mili- 
tary forces. Between them they occupied 
more than 600 stations. At present the 

* In the course of the year 1891, it had been pro- 
posed to recruit the police-force exclusively among 
Burmese tribes (Karens, Shans, etc.) But the Chief 
Conunissioner, Sir A. Mackenzie, pointed out the in- 
conveniences, and even the great danger of such a 
measure : danger for the safety of the province; incon- 
veniences, on account of possible events in Siant; and 
these two argiunents of his led to the adjournment of 
the question. 


civil police is only some 6,000 to 7,000 
strong and its organisation is not strikingly 
good, while the strength of the military 
force has diminished to 1 6,000 ; the two forces 
occupied between them, in 1888, 175, in 
1889, 192, and at the beginning of 1890, 
173 stations. 

If, without entering into every detail, we 
were to confine ourselves to those military 
measures which were adopted with a view 
to pacification, we should have to mention 
the various attempts at military colonies 
which were extended with the twofold duties 
of keeping the natives in check and improv- 
ing the country occupied. Nor should we 
have to omit to record another, and very 
important, measure, regarding which opin- 
ions differed, namely, the general disarma- 
ment of the Burmese and Karen villages, 
when over 40,000 fire-arms were confiscated. 
This had the result of depriving them of 
the means of attacking the British, but it, 
at the some time, prevented any possible 
resistance on their part to dacoits. These 
are, however, but secondary matters, and 
we must hurry on to another portion of the 
work which devolved on the British, viz., that 
of paving the way for pacification by mea- 
sures of a political nature. 



Pacification by political means — Good understanding 
between the civilian officials and the military 
leaders — Justice and administration — Errors and 
faults; cruelties — Attitude towards the native 
chiefs] towards the vassal tribes \ towards China 
— The treaty of July i88y. 

At the outset of this portion of our studies, 
it is of great importance to lay particular 
stress on the purport of certain words used, 
and to define what we mean by '^measures 
of a political order,** and by ^ Opacification.'* 
It must not be imagined that these divisions : 
'Opacification** and '^ organisation,'* '' measu- 
res of a military order*' and ''measures of 
a political order," which we have adopted 
with a view to explaining more clearly a 
complicated subject, correspond as regards 
time to definitely fixed and distinct 


periods, and in their application to positively 
distinct methods. When the conquest, pro- 
perly so called, is once completed, and the 
problem of pacifying the country has to be 
faced, it does not become a question of a 
certain length of time during which the mili- 
tary act with perfect freedom with their own 
resources and on their own responsibility, 
succeeded by another period, when their 
service abruptly ceases and gives place to 
the rule of politicians and representatives of 
civil power. Nor are the methods of paci- 
fication absolutely distinct and separate from 
those of organisation, any more than a period 
of pacification is absolutely distinct from a 
period of organisation. Pacification paves 
the way for organisation, and is bound up 
with it by the transfer of its methods, be 
they good or bad, so that it is well nigh 
impossible to say where the one begins and 
the other ends, or which measure is one of 
pacification and which, one of organisation. 
From the very first day, when the army 
was driving before it the scattered Burmese 
battalions, the British were revolving in their 
minds the best means for influencing the popu- 
lation by administrative measures ; and not for 
one moment did they create any distinct dif- 
erence between the action of military, and that 
of civil power. They took care, even while 
the conquest was still being carried out, to 


instal in the chief centres political function- 
aries with instructions to establish there a 
primary and rudimentary administrative or- 
ganisation, whilst the army maintained order. 
And, on the other hand, even after the con- 
quest was complete, they demanded the co- 
operation of the military, and claimed their 
presence for purely political purposes. Gen- 
eral Roberts wrote in his instructions to 
General McPherson: ^*The troops must 
make their presence felt everywhere, and 
must remain sufficiently long in the princi- 
pal localities to admit of the civil authori- 
ties establishing the administration on a solid 
basis, so as to inspire the people of the 
country with a feeling of confidence in the 
strength of our rule, and to dispel all fear of 
their being subsequently harassed by da- 

A task of this kind implies, and, indeed, 
exacts perfect unanimity between civil and 
military authorities. **I have consulted^' 
wrote General White who at one time had 
30,000 men under his orders, and exercised 
his authority with ability not often met 
with — ''I have consulted with the Chief Com- 
missioner and he concurs with me in the 
scheme I have planned." Do not, however, 
suppose that the British, whether soldiers or 
civilians, were philosophers ready at once 
to sink all rivalry for the greater good of 


their country.' But these unfortunate con- 
flicts were never made known to the gene- 
ral pubUc, the reason being that in India 
there is an undisputed authority far above 
coteries and rivalries, and powerful enough 
to subdue and control them all, namely, the 

The British with their admirable instinct oi 
Government have conferred on the Governors 
of their colonies sufficiently wide powers to pre- 
vent any of their lawful subjects being able, or 
even tempted, to dispute, and still less to 
resist, their authority. I have already spoken 
of the powers which the Governor of Hong- 

' Sir Charles Dilke makes a discreet allusion to these 
conflicts of opinion in his work "Problems of Greater 
Britain " (II. p. 51.) In Burma, less discretion was observed. 
The following instance is the text of what the 
Times correspondent telegraphed on the 25 th February 
1888. "The state of the district of Kvusk is excellent. 
This is no doubt due to the cordial co-operation of 
the civil and military authorities. Similar harmonious 
action is unfortunately not universal in Upper Burma." 
Besides, conflicts were not confined to civil and mili- 
tary authorities. It appears that in Burma every one 
considered his district as a territory reserved to his 
own exclusive action. Whoever encroached upon this 
territory was treated as an enemy, to the great detri- 
ment of public affairs. An officer, Captain Raikes, was 
deputed by the authorities of his district to negotiate 
with a tribe of Chins living in the neighbourhood of 
the district of Pagay. The Superintendent of that dis- 
trict, Captain Eyre, on hearing of this mission, at once 
invited the Chins "to enter into communication with 
him rather than with Captain Raikes." 


Kong possesses. In India the Governor-Gen- 
eral in Council, as representative of the 
Queen, dictates orders to all authorities, 
whether civil or military, and the Comman- 
der-in-Chief of the Indian Forces is to him 
merely the Chief of one of the Services 
whom he admits to the discussion of his views 
solely from motives of courtesy and for the 
furtherance of his own interests. Under 
these circumstances, rivalries resulting from 
esprit de corps cannot create much mischief; 
the Viceroy, as supreme chiet of the Milita- 
ry and Civil Services, possesses the means 
of checking and preventing them. I may 
add that his task is easy enough with officers 
who, like all Anglo-Saxons, are imbued with 
a spirit of discipline, and with civilians who, 
like the majority of British officials, are of 
striking respectability and merit. 

In order to pacify a country, it is obvious 
that measures of a pacifying nature must be 
resorted to. This is self-evident and a 
truism; and yet, its acceptation by Govern- 
ments is but of recent date. They have 
long had, and perhaps still retain, a secret 
hankering after repressive measures. This 
may be explained by saying that the 
earlier agents of pacification are the very 
ones who conducted the conquest. How- 
ever that may be, all present-day conquerors 
endeavour to seek favour with the conquered 


by moderation and good-will. And the Bri- 
tish did not fail to do so in Burma. 

Their task was a difficult one. It would 
have been difficult for any nation, but for 
them it was especially so, because their 
usual support was wanting in this case. The 
fact is that, in their conquests, they always 
look to the aristocracy, to princes, religious 
bodies, or Governments for support. Now, 
Burma, as I shall presently indicate in some 
detail, possesses no aristocracy at all, and 
no longer had a Government. The British 
found themselves, consequently, face to face 
with a sparse population, wanting in cohesion, 
and difficult to conciliate. 

It is, or is at all events admitted to be, 
an axiom that Eastern nations have a craving 
for justice. Whoever brings them this 
sovereign good is sure of a hearty welcome. 
This was, apparently, the trump-card in the 
hand of the British. They are certainly 
firm believers in justice. They look upon 
the possibility of obtaining justice as the 
highest form of security; upon the admini- 
stration of justice, as the most sacred of all 
duties, the highest of all functions. Wherever 
they go, they build as soon as practicable a 
court of law, and appoint a judge. This 
done, they can safely go about their business. 
They pursued precisely the same course of 
action in Burma. The manner in which 


their Indian officials are recruited admits of 
their being rendered competent almost at 
will, either as administrators, collectors, or 
magistrates. Thus from the very first, 
even in the most primitive stage of govern- 
ment, they have always had men capable of 
the administration of justice who themselves 
were intensely eager for it, and the majority 
of whom have indeed judged most impartially. ^ 
The sentences passed by them have ge- 
nerally been in conformity with the rulings 
and purposes of the law, unswayed by opin- 
iative caprice, or administrative requirements. 
I quote, as an instance, two decisions much 
to their credit : one, condemning to hard la- 
bour certain members of the police force 
who had terrorised the country entrusted to 
their supervision; the other, acquitting a na- 
tive accused of having killed a British po- 

' From the 24th January 1886, that is to say, six 
weeks after the commencement of the occupation, there 
were civil officials, and notablv magistrates, in a certain 
number of districts. (See "Burma," 1886, C. 4887, p. 
15.) In more than one place, however, the haste made 
to establish a civil administration resulted in the appoint- 
ment of young and inexperienced officials to posts where 
the duties to be performed were of an extremely deli- 
cate nature, and this provisional state of affairs lasted 
for years. During the same period, districts in Lower 
Burma which were absolutely peaceable, were admini- 
stered by men of consummate experience, whose proper 
place should have been in the disturbed provinces of 
the north. 


lice officer. *^ I am of opinion/' said the 
judge in the latter case (Mr. Hildebrand, 
Superintendent of the Shan States) "that the 
Ngami who killed Mr, Powell may be held 
blameless for firing his gun to liberate his 
son-in-law. Even if his son-in-law had not 
begged for his help, the fact that his two sons 
had been illegally, and most unjustly mas- 
sacred before his eyes, would constitute an 
excuse for the speedy vengeance which he 
exacted for their death by killing their mur- 
derer.'' This judgment — a remarkable instance 
of impartiality — created a great sensation in 
Burma, and evoked criticisms from nearly 
all the local press. The Rangoon Gazette 
concluded its remarks thereon with the fol- 
lowing words : ^ * This is tantamount to giving 
every more or less barbarous native authority 
to kill British officials whenever he finds 
them in the act of arresting one or other 
of his relations on a charge which he regards 
as illegal." 

There would be some foundation for such 
fears, were a conqueror liable to exhibit 
excessive partiality towards the conquered. 
Notwithstanding the honourable examples 
which I have just quoted, this was not, nor 
indeed could be, the case with the British. 
It must be explicitly stated that the almost 
exclusive belief in justice by which they are 
characterised, often leaves room for injus- 


tice. For, properly speaking, what the 
Enghshman approves of in justice is not so 
much equity, . as right. In order to quiet 
his conscience, he claims a recognition of 
his right ; this right once confirmed, he pur- 
sues it to the end. But the right of the 
conqueror proclaimed by himself is liable to 
be exorbitant. The judge is human, and 
consequently liable to err, and to be influ- 
enced by his emotions. It is owing, too, to 
the very fact that justice and judicial deci- 
sions have constituted the sole restraint upon 
their strict right, that the British have been 
guilty of frivolity, errors, and even cruelty, 
of which the least that can be said is, that 
they were singularly harmful to their own 

I merely mention, as a record, certain a- 
trocious proceedings. One instance was 
that of an officer who, suspecting a native 
of a capital crime and being unable to ob- 
tain a confession, had him led in front of 
the firing party, and so extorted a false con- 
fession. Another, a lover of dramatic scenes, 
took a photograph of the torture which he 
had himself ordered to be inflicted. These 
are, I am willing to believe,^ revolting ex- 

' After these articles had appeared in the "Revue 
des deux Mondes", I received a letter from a friend, 
who has long resided in Burma, of which the following 
is an extract: "The few abuses which you describe, 


ceptions, and public opinion condemned them. 
But it was a general practice to shoot, on 
the spot, and without trial, every dacoit 
taken with arms in his hands. A very sim- 
ple plan, truly, but one which had not even 
the excuse of usefulness ; for the Burmese, 
like the Annamites, have no fear of death. 
And of this, the British were well aware; 
here is what one of their historians has 
written: **A detachment of the Naval Bri- 
gade, having captured a dozen dacoits, pro- 
ceeded to shoot them one after the other. 
It was thought that this would produce a 
greater impression than shooting them all 
at once. The first was placed upright with 
his back to the wall. A conical ball struck 
him between the eyes, splitting open the 
upper part of his skull, and causing it to 
hinge backwards in a strange and grotesque 
fashion. At this sight, his comrades who 
were near at hand awaiting their turn, burst 
into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. They 
were still laughing at it as they advanced 
in succession to take up their position in 
front of the firing party. They looked upon 
the occurrence as a capital joke.'* The 
Government answering a question on the 

are not the exception, but almost the rule ; the fact 
being that there is a play of rivalry, of competition, 
and of influences which causes some abuses to be 
made public, whilst the remaining ones are carefully 
concealed, though not unknown." 



matter in Parliament, promised to put an 
end ** to a state of affairs which was a 
scandal, and might become a danger/' But 
the executions went on as before, and it 
was not until Lord Dufferin embarked for 
Burma, that, on the very day of his depar- 
ture General Prendergast issued an order 
forbidding these * ^arbitrary executions/' Since 
that time, the death-penalty has become less 
frequent, and can now only be carried out 
after a regular trial, and on the sentence of 
a civil magistrate. 

So much for cruelty, and now for injus- 
tice. In 1887, a leader of dacoits surren- 
dered himself on the word of an official 
who guaranteed that his life should be spared ; 
the Government of India declined to sanction 
this promise, and ordered the man to be shot. 
In 1890 — when a system of jurisprudence ap- 
parently existed — a redoubted dacoit. Boh 
Yanyum, received a letter from an officer 
of police promising that his life should be 
spared; the Buddhist high-priest also inter- 
vening on his behalf. Boh- Yanyum made his 
submission to the Deputy Commissioner of 
Myingyan. The latter, without even denying 
that the promise had been made, condem- 
ned him to death. The whole province rose 
against this, for Boh Yanyum — an uncommon 
circumstance — was perhaps more of a patriot 
than a pillager; the people, the priests, the 


monks, all issued a manifesto in his favour; 
the appellate judge taking into consideration 
the fact that he had been promised his life, 
and even something more, commuted, having 
no power to do more, the sentence of death 
to one of transportation for life, and recom- 
mended him to mercy. For months, how- 
ever, the Government remained insensible 
to justice, to the prayers of the natives, and 
even to the interests of British rule; and it 
was only after prolonged delay that it pro- 
nounced its decision on this burning question. 
It confirmed the commutation of the penalty, 
but declined to grant a free pardon, merely 
undertaking to reconsider the matter five 
years later. 

By this unfair dealing the British have 
been the means of even circumstances beyond 
their control being attributed to their bad 
faith. In the early days of the insurrection 
the number of prisoners taken was enor- 
mous. The prisons were over-crowded. It 
is estimated that either in Burma, or in India 
whither they had been taken en masse^ the 
number of native prisoners was close on 
50,000. Lord Dufferin put a stop to this 
epidemic of arrests; and even ere long res- 
tored the majority of the prisoners to liberty. 
In order to deter them from rejoining their 
former bands, work was promised them in 
the Government dock-yards, on the roads, 


and on the railway in course of construc- 
tion from Tungu to Mandalay. Unfortuna- 
tely, their very numbers prevented their being 
ail provided with employment: this had the 
result of lowering, though this time unde- 
servedly, the British reputation for fair dealing, 
and of perceptibly retarding the pacification. 
A long time must elapse before the majo- 
rity of the population can be restored to 

More happy results were attained among 
the class of people whom I might, though 
somewhat inaccurately, term the aristocracy : 
the Buddhist priests, the members of the 
Grand Council, the most influential of the 
Chiefs were the object of much kind atten- 
tion, and consideration. 

The enemies of the British had spread the 
report that they bore less ill-will to King 
Theebaw and his dynasty than to the Bud- 
dhist religion and its followers. The accusa- 
tion was a grave one. In Burma almost the 
whole nation goes through a course of 
priestly life ; everyone, at least once in his 
life-time, assumes the garb of a monk, and 
as the vows are not in reality perpetual, 
the lay society is composed to a large extent 
of persons who have temporarily worn the 
religious garb. To attack the religion, was 
tantamount to attacking the whole nation. 
In order to overcome these prejudices, the 


representatives of the national religion were 
treated with the utmost circumspection. 

At the time when British troops were 
marching on Mandalay, the Buddhist high- 
priest was admitted to an audience with Sir 
Charles Bernard, the then Chief Commission- 
er, at Rangoon, who assured him that, 
whatever happened, no danger threatened 
the Buddhist religion. In the course of the 
campaign, and during the period occupied 
in taking possession of the country, both 
civiHans, and officers in the army were in- 
structed to pay particular respect to priests, 
monks, and monasteries. General Roberts 
personally displayed considerable deference 
to the religious authorities. The British even 
affected to treat them as important political 
factors. When it was known that the da- 
coit chief, Ala-Oo, wished to surrender, the 
Commissioner of the district, Mr. Colquhoun, 
wrote to him that, if he preferred it, he was at 
liberty to make his submission through the me- 
dium of the Buddhist high-priest of Mandalay. 
All this produced an excellent impression/ 

^ Since then, the conciliatory policy inaugurated by 
Sir Charles Bernard and Sir Frederick Roberts has been 
abandoned. Monks have, with more or less justice, been 
imprisoned. Very little attention has been paid to the 
more important of the native authorities. The high- 
priest who negotiated the submission of Boh Yanyum has 
been unable to secure the fulfilment of the engagements 
entered into. The result of all this is, that the religious 
element is rapidly becoming alienated from the British. 


Previous to British rule, there was a Coun- 
cil of State or Hlutdaw at the head of af- 
fairs, which might be regarded as rather co- 
ordinate with, than subordinate to, the king. 
This Council (which reminds one of the Comat 
of the Court of Hue) was composed of the 
Chief Ministers of the State, or ^Woongys', 
who were four^ and sometimes six in num- 
ber. The hope had been momentarily enter- 
tained of the possibility of maintaining the 
Council, and of carrying on the government 
by it, or at least in combination with it. 
For reasons which I shall presently relate, 
this idea had to be abandoned : the Hlutdaw 
was abolished; but its honorary or active 
members were studiously won over to Bri- 
tish policy. They were entrusted with the 
exercise of functions which were suitably 
remunerated; certain distinctions were con- 
ferred on them, and so forth. 

The British displayed equal wisdom in their 
dealings with the vassal tribes, as in those 
with the high Burmese officials. During the 
native regime, the relations of these tribes 
with the Court of Ava had been tolerably 
lax. The bonds of suzerainty relaxed in 
proportion to the distance from the frontiers 
of Central Burma, and the rights claimed by 
the latest Alompra, in many cases, served no 
other purpose than that of furnishing a pre- 
text for intervention. 


The British were far from wishing to profit 
by claims at once so varied and so open 
to dispute. In Central Burma and the ad- 
joining provinces they assumed with vigour 
the reins of government : but even there they 
took great care not to offend susceptibilities. 
When a hitherto independent chief appeared 
to possess real authority in his district, they 
affected to treat him as a sort of ally, and 
furnished him, in cases of emergency, with 
troops to assist him in upholding his author- 
ity, and maintaining order. With the more 
remote provinces, as, for instance, the Shan 
States, whose possession is a matter of con- 
troversy between Burma, Siam, China, and 
other countries, and which were in reality 
almost autonomous at that time, they dis- 
played a yet greater degree of prudence. ^ 
With one they entered into negotiations, with 
the object of securing its assent to a British 

' The appendix to Colonel Yule's book contains a 
statement of China's indisputable rights over certain of 
the Shan States. As to Siam, according to a recent 
report make by Mr. Scott, Superintendent of the Shan 
States, it claims all the states which lie to the east of 
the Salwen; the British, on the contrary, claim, as suc- 
cessors to the Burmese, five of these same states. Thus 
there are reasons for a settlement of territorial limits 
both with Siam and with China. Discreet and prudent 
persons demand such a settlement. (See The Times of 
8th March 1892.) They hope that it may have the result, 
by reducing the territory claimed by Burma, of prevent- 
ing immediate contact with the French possessions, and 
thus obviating all chance of rivalry, and dispute. 


Resident; thus to the Tsawbwa (the Chief's 
local name) of Momeit they sent, nominally 
as assistant and adviser, Mr. Colquhoun, with 
troops and poUce, to aid him in his struggle 
with the dacoits. To another they accorded 
a fixed term, which was, however, continu- 
ally prolonged, for tendering his submission ; 
thus, to the Tsawbwa of Wuntho who 
had retreated into the mountains with 2,000 
men, besides elephants and cannon, they 
gave a whole year, wherein to return to 
submission; and when he eventually surren- 
dered, they confirmed him in his state of 
semi-independence. Prudence was, in this 
case, almost synonymous with weakness, and 
confidence the mere equivalent of blindness, 
as was proved by the result. Finally by the 
Shan States Act^ passed at the close of 1888, 
the native chiefs were allowed, as they had 
been under the Burmese dynasty, to admi- 
nister their districts themselves under the 
supervision of a British Superintendent. Si- 
milarly, in 1887 and up to 1890, negotia- 
tions were entered into with certain tribes, 
with a view to secure their neutrality, and 
to put a stop to their incursions into 
neighbouring valleys. It was not until quite 
recently that it was decided to adopt rigorous 
measures against certain frontier tribes, with 
whom it appeared impossible to come to an 


To sum up, this line of policy has consisted 
entirely in settling the various questions in 
rotation, and in interposing a sufficient inter- 
val between their successive settlement ; and 
a very wise policy it has been proved to be. 

The same remark is equally appHcable to 
the negotiations conducted with the Chinese 
Empire which ended in the treaty of the 24th 
July i887(ratifications exchanged in Lon- 
don, on the following 25th August). China 
had always asserted certain claims to Burma. 
Her claims were twofold : firstly, a general 
right of suzerainty over the whole of Burma ; 
and secondly, a right of actual ownership 
as regards the district of Bhamo more espe- 
cially, as well as certain adjacent districts. 
The British, in their official documents, made 
every reservation as to the first of these 
claims, and, on the other hand, admitted that 
the second was more " reasonable.'' In prac- 
tice, however, they did not hesitate to re- 
cognise the first, and to repudiate the second 
claim. They took possession of Bhamo, to 
which place they attributed special import- 
ance. At the same time, with a view to 
calming China's susceptibilities, they conceded 
to her an apparent suzerainty. *^ If," wrote 
Lord Dufferin, **the Secretary of State does 
not object to such a course, the Government 
of India can have no objection, to the con- 
firmation by its representative in Burma of 


the existing practice of an amicable exchange 
of presents (remark the euphemism) with the 
Governor of Yunnan, in such manner as may 
seem most convenient. The clause in the 
arrangement which refers to intervention 
should, however, be carefully considered/' 
This arrangement was the Treaty of July 
1887, Article i stipulated that ^Mn so far 
as it has been customary in Burma to send 
missions to China with presents of the pro- 
ducts of the country. Great Britain agrees 
that the chief officer in Burma shall send 
the customary decennial missions; the en- 
voys to be of Burmese nationality." In con- 
sideration of this concession — a concession 
which some other countries might have im- 
itated with advantage — China agreed in ar- 
ticle 2 to allow Great Britain complete liberty 
of action. 

This did not, indeed, have the effect of 
suppressing all the little frontier incidents, 
of frequent occurrence in Burma, as in Tong- 
king. But it was to prevent China from 
lending her aid to revolt, even at the com- 
mencement of the occupation, and enabled 
the British, during a necessarily critical pe- 
riod, to devote their entire attention to their 
rebellious subjects, unhampered by opposi- 
tion from other quarters. 

Such was the policy pursued by Great 
Britain during the period immediately follow- 


ing the occupation, in dealing with the 
Burmese races, the religious and political 
authorities of the country and, lastly, with 
neighbouring powers who might exercise some 
influence on the internal politics of their new 
possession. This policy was, on the whole, well 
calculated to produce the desired effect, ix.^ 
the appeasement of popular prejudices. And 
yet, all this prudence and ingenuity might 
prove unavailing, if the conquerors failed to 
fulfil the chief of all conditions in the eyes 
of the conquered, that is, if they did not give 
them a suitable political regime. 



Importance of this question — A ^'buffer State'* — A 
Protectorate — An nexation . 

As SOON as the conquest had been com- 
pleted, and it had been decided to place 
Upper Burma under British influence, the 
most serious problem to face was undoubt- 
edly how the country was to be governed. 
Nothing was of higher importance, both for 
the growth of pacification and for the future 
welfare of the new possession. 

There were three alternatives : the continu- 
ance, under certain fixed conditions, of the 
reigning dynasty ; the establishment of a British 
protectorate ; or annexation. Lord Dufferin, 
in a Memorandum already quoted reviewed 
and discussed all three propositions; we 
cannot do better than take him for guide. 

Public opinion both in England, and in 
India, was in favour of the plan which would 
entail the smallest responsibilities on the 


Empire, a view which even the Government 
fully endorsed. Bearing in mind the difficul- 
ties which his predecessors had both fore- 
seen, and met with in 1852, Lord Dufferin 
wrote as follows to the Secretary of State 
for India : 

^^I am extremely reluctant to augment 
unnecessarily the Empire's obligations. Con- 
sequently, I have first of all considered the 
means of reducing our intervention to a mi- 
nimum, by limiting it to precautionary mea- 
sures sufficient merely to prevent any pos- 
sibility of foreign influences, which might 
prove embarrassing to us, from predomina- 
ting either overtly or covertly in the Valley 
of the Upper Irrawaddy. In other words, I 
have asked myself whether it would not be 
possible to transform Burma into a so-called 
^^ buffer State'' (to use a now familiar ex- 
pression). By such an arrangement, the 
native dynasty of the Alompra would have 
remained on the throne ; the reigning prince 
would, like the Amir of Afghanistan, have 
been perfectly independent in all matters of 
internal administration; all that we should 
have claimed would have been the right of 
supervising the foreign relations. 

" On subjecting this project to closer ex- 
amination with the aid of further means of 
information, it has appeared to me to be 
impracticable. The kingdom of Ava posses- 


ses neither the elasticity nor the power of 
resistance which a ''buffer state'' must neces- 
sarily possess. To insure by artificial means 
its independence on the great line of com- 
munication between our Burmese possessions 
and China, would be an expedient of more 
than doubtful efficacy. This state would 
certainly have proved an obstacle to the 
free exercise of commercial relations; and 
its weakness would be a perpetual tempta- 
tion to the Chinese Government to seriously 
assert the shadowy, and, as I believe, unfound- 
ed claims which the Chinese Ambassador 
has put forward. 

'' This being so, can a semi-protected State 
be created on the frontiers of the Empire 
with any advantage to us? This principle of 
protection, even in its most attenuated form, 
entails responsibilities out of all proportion 
to the means at hand for confronting them, 
and leads naturally enough to our placing 
in the hands of him whom we protect the 
power to involve us in war against our will : 
to bring this about he has but to instigate 
his neighbours to aggressive acts which, 
whether justifiable or not, we should be for- 
ced to repel . . . Under these circumstances, 
our intervention would one day become ne- 
cessary, and in carrying it out we should be 
disadvantageously situated, the military power 
and the revenues of the country being in 


the hands of a ruler incapable alike of ad- 
ministering his revenues and of disciplining 
his troops. 

*^ Further, this personage would, in all 
probability, be jealous of our intervention 
and might, just at the critical moment, prove 
unreasonable, ungovernable and, perhaps, 
disloyal. The country is not rich enough 
to support, over and above the expenses of 
the Court and of the king's army, the cost 
of a British army ; and, as we certainly should 
not wish to defend the. frontier with men in 
our pay, it would be exposed to all the 
possibilities which I have indicated." 

These objections coming from a man of 
just disposition and great experience caused 
the idea of a ^* buffer state '' to be abandoned. 
But, "buffer'' state and semi-protected state 
are but varieties of a type which was, in 
short, very acceptable ; and^ to continue, if 
the principle of imposing protection on the 
kingdom of Burma be once admitted, who 
was there to compel Great Britain to stop 
half-way? Why abide by the semi-protec- 
tion mentioned by Lord Dufferin ? Who was 
there to prevent the establishment of a real 
protectorate, instead of a " buffer state " ; the 
maintenance of the reigning dynasty and the 
native officials, with a British Resident at 
their side to control both interior adminis- 
tration, and foreign affairs? 


This solution seemed admirably suited to 
the situation. The Burmese, or at least 
many of them, wished that their traditional 
form of government should be retained. 
Those who were consulted, almost unani- 
mously declared that a ^^ titular king," a *' king 
in name" (such were the expressions used) 
would meet with absolute obedience on the 
part of his subjects. True, the Queen, and 
certain of the Ministers were hated; but 
King Theebaw, or any other of his race, 
would be popular. His accession would 
cause the dacoits to lay aside their arms, 
and would insure final Pacification. As to 
the administration, the British would them- 
selves carry it on in his name, and as seem- 
ed " to them good, through the medium of 
some wise administrator, such as, for instance, 
Colonel Sladen, who was so well acquainted 
with Burmese affairs, and who would exert 
an irresistible influence over the king, his 
councillors, and his Ministers. 

Such were the whispered suggestions that 
reached Lord Bufferings ear, and which could 
not fail, burdened as he was at the time 
with so many responsibilities, to strongly 
impress his mind. He was naturally rather 
inclined to accept an arrangement of this 
kind. He had seen the system working in 
India, under his personal observation, in a 
certain number of native States, and on 


reaching Mandalay he found a form of Gov- 
ernment provisionally established, similar to 
that which had been recommended to him, 
without the king, indeed, (who from the very 
first had been sent a captive to Rangoon) 
but with his former Council of State presi- 
ded over by Colonel Sladen himself. 

However, in spite of so many reasons for 
adopting the idea of a protectorate, he con- 
sidered it his duty to reject it. A protec- 
torate, in the main, necessitates two distinct 
powers each capable of fulfilling distinct 
duties : the protector who serves as interme- 
diary between foreign powers and the pro- 
tege; the protege who serves as intermedi- 
ary between the protector and the native 
population. It lies with these tw^o to main- 
tain peace at home, and abroad. For peace 
with foreign countries the British certainly 
offered their proteges sufficient guarantee ; 
but, in return, they were anxious to ascer- 
tain whether these proteges could guarantee 
them peace at home. Now, they deemed 
this protected Government incapable for all 
time of fulfilling its obligations. 

In fact, not one of those who, according 
to the definition of the protectorate, would 
be called upon to exert influence over the 
population, had retained sufficient control 
over them. And firstly, no further reliance 
was to be placed on King Theebaw who by 



his cruelties had stirred up a party against 
himself in the country, and by his over-prompt 
submission had alienated the rest. The other 
Alompra were little more than degenerate 
princes, and those who formed the excep- 
tion to the rule, were either too far com- 
promised or too hostile to Great Britain to 
justify any reliance being placed in them. 
One of them was the prince Myn-Goon 
whose antecedents were known to all our 
Foreign Office officials, and who at that time 
was living on French charity at Pondicherry 
waiting for an opportunity to overthrow the 
reigning monarch. The others, five or six 
in number, were wandering about the jun- 
gles at the head of bands of dacoits, and 
derived even less advantage from their title 
of prince than from that of robber-chief. 
Thus, to begin with, the king was wanting, 
who was to be the ^poll-bolt' of the pro- 
tectorate, or at the very least the nail on 
which to hang the ensign. 

Equally wanting was an aristocracy to 
rally the nation around it. 

In these Oriental countries, birth and here- 
ditary right do not suffice either to found 
or to perpetuate an aristocracy : to this end 
two further conditions are requisite : riches 
and knowledge. Now, throughout the vast 
expanse of the Kingdom of Burma, there is 
no one that can be called rich: its popula- 


tion is too sparsely scattered, does not settle 
down on the land sufficiently and lacks indus- 
try. Consequently, everyone has but scanty 
means of subsistence. The king's favour, 
and the nomination to posts which are lucra- 
tive through the opportunities for extortion 
which they afford, are almost the only means 
of attaining wealth, and they are means of 
too precarious a nature to admit of the found- 
ation of substantial positions. And no aris- 
tocracy can exist without a substratum of 

It is true, with certain peoples, near neigh- 
bours of the Burmese, the aristocracy of in- 
tellect surpasses that of money, and, perhaps, 
that of birth also. But in Burma, though 
in bygone days it possessed a noble and 
power ul civilisation, learning is not so highly 
considered ; and the educational systeni there 
is productive of a general level which is 
simply universal mediocrity. Nearly all the 
Burmese go through a course of priestly 
tuition, and the very recruitment and status 
of these priests is such as to necessarily 
render them inferior instructors. 

The priests are, in fact, not, as in other 
countries^ a separate class, a corporate body 
whom a glorious record in the past compels 
to perform rude and noble tasks : the Bud- 
dhist priesthood is, as I have already inti- 
mated^ so inseparably linked to the nation 


that every man, at least at one period of 
his life, is bound to don the poongi's (monk's) 
garb, and that, inversely, every poongi can 
doff his garb at pleasure. The renunciation 
of the monastic vows is characteristically 
termed in Burmese ^' to become a man 
again." Under these circumstances the Bur- 
mese priests possess neither the proud zeal 
of powerful castes nor yet the envious spi- 
rit of oppressed minorities ; their knowledge 
does not rise above a certain level, and they 
themselves do not rise above the average 
level of the nation from which they spring, 
and which they, in their turn, serve to con- 

In a country where there is neither prince 
to occupy the throne, nor aristocracy to 
which the task of influencing the lower clas- 
ses may be confided, the nation becomes 
the sole factor • in the political situation : 
thus it was with the nation alone that the 
British had to deal, without any intermedi- 
ary. This led straight to annexation pure 
and simple, to the incorporation of Upper 
Burma with the great British Empire. ^ 

' It still remained, however, a debatable point, 
whether, when once added to Lower Burma, the entire 
province should form a mere province of India, or an 
independent colony, or, lastlv, an adjunct to the Straits 
Settlements and the Malay Peninsula. (See the letters 
published in the Times of 27th August, ist, 12th and 
17th September 1888, notably that of M. Chantoon, a 


It was a grave step, and one which might 
be pregnant with danger. ^ Great difficulty 
was experienced in ascertaining what the 
wishes of the nation really were. The Bud- 
dhist priests maintained an attitude of indif- 
ference, and, provided their privileges were 
not infringed, would recognise established 
authority ; whilst the Mussulmans, whose 
number was not insignificant, were distinctly 
in favour of annexation by the British with 
whom their co-religionists in India were so 
well satisfied. 

The majority of the population had no 
distinct leaning to one side or the other. 
Doubtless, by tradition, they were attached 
to their kings. But, in short, what they 
desired above all else was security and order, 
and the government which gave them these 
two benefits would, in their estimation, be 
the legitimate Government. Lastly, there was 
— and this very closely resembles what we 
have seen in Tongking — a whole class of 

Burmese by birth, who advocates the separation of Up- 
per and Lower Burma, the institution of several inde- 
pendent provinces governed by Burmese under the 
control of British Superintendents, etc.) 

^ There was even a tendency to exaggerate the 
danger. It was said, for instance, that the annexation 
of Burma would have a disquieting effect on the feu- 
datory princes of India. Lord Dufferin clearly proved 
in the Memorandum referred to above, that this fear 
was chimerical. 


petty officials who, foreseeing a possibility 
of profitable service under British rule, were 
eager for annexation, and, when interrogated 
by the Viceroy, invariably replied that such 
was also the wish of the nation. ^ 

In the end, annexation was decided on. 
^^ I am convinced," Lord Dufferin said on this 
occasion, '^ that annexation pure and simple, 
with a direct administration of the provin- 
ces by British officials, offers us the best 
chance of insuring peace and security both 
to Burma, and to our political and commer- 
cial interests. This decision doubtless entails 
upon us serious charges and responsibilities, 
and will cause us, for some time to come, 
many anxieties, and burden us with many 
expenses. But no other alternative is open 
to us ; and in the end, I doubt not that we 

' A British officer, who had travelled through the 
whole of Upper Burma, was not of this opinion. " It is 
pretended^" he says in substance, " that the Burmese 
desire annexation because they expect great things from 
a good administration such as ours would be. Now, I 
have just travelled through the whole of Upper Burma : 
the roads and the houses there are in better order than 
those of Lower Burma. The inhabitants are contented, 
and do not appear to me to have been longing for our 
advent." This was confirmed at a later date. (See 
"The Times" of 24th August 1890.) Cf., however, as 
representing a contrary view, the narrative of another 
correspondent of "The Times" who, in the district of 
the ruby mines, found the roads abominable, and the 
inhabitants totally destitute. (" The Times," 2nd Sep- 
tember 1890.) 


shall be indemnified for a temporary period 
of trouble and annoyance by increased se- 
curity in our districts of Lower Burma, and 
on our Eastern frontier, as well as by the 
development of the trade and general re- 
sources of the new province.'' 

When once a decision had been arrived 
at, the situation was simplified. The British 
now found themselves face to face with the 
nation ; that is to say, as matters stood, 
with a multitude of interests, private, isola- 
ted, and distinct. It was no longer a ques- 
tion of having recourse either to intrigue or 
to bribes. There was no class to gain over by 
benefits, no caste to conciUate by privileges ; 
but something much more difficult to man- 
age : the mass of Burmese subjects. And 
these were only to be conciliated by a just, 
wise, and progressive administration. 

- / 

PART 11. 




The Laws of India — Civil and Penal Codes — Accli- 
matisation of the Laws — The Laws of India in 
Lower Burma — The Laws of Lower Burma in 
Upper Burma — Differences between the various 
regimes applied to different parts of the province. 

Nothing, perhaps, affords a better illustra- 
tion of the British system of colonial admi- 
nistration than the legislative task accom- 
plished in Burma. This task may be des- 
cribed^ in one word, i.e.^ acclimatisation. 
It consisted in paving the way in Lower 
Burma for the acclimatisation of the laws 
of India, and then preparing Upper Burma 
for its acclimatisation to the laws of Lower 


The laws of India would do credit to any 
community. Such is the opinion of Sir Henry 
Sumner Maine, who is a competent judge ; 
and also of Sir John Strachey^ who has written 
the best book extant on India. ' 

The criminal laws are notably marvellous. 
It is a very remarkable fact that the British 
display greater anxiety to possess good cri- 
minal, than good civil laws. There appear 
to me to be two reasons which account for 
this. The penal legislation of semi-civilised 
countries is characterised by a cruelty which 
is revolting to highly civilised nations, and to 
none more so than the British nation. It cannot 
indeed be said of the British that they are 
champions of humanity. But they are op- 
posed to cruel ideas, especially such as 
are incorporate in the laws. And this being 
their character, they naturally endeavoured, 
with due precautions of which traces still 
exist, to introduce into India, as well as into 
all their colonies, a more humane penal code. 
That is one of the reasons alluded to above, 
and the other is this. In all criminal cases, 
society in general is at war with one indi- 
vidual. Now, the British — knowing full well 
the danger of measures which partake of too 

^ See the translation by M. Harmand, Minister Pleni- 
potentiary, and the excellent introduction with which he 
prefaces it: "L'Inde," i vol. 8vo. Paris, Societe d'^di- 
tions scientifiques, 1891. 


repressive a character — apparently fear lest 
the judge who represents society may es- 
pouse its cause, with which he naturally is 
in sympathy, too ardently against the indivi- 
dual ; and their fears are increased when 
civilised England forms this society on the 
one hand, and the individual represents 
primitive Asia. They therefore, deem it 
advisable, in view of such a difficulty, to 
provide against the strong partiality which 
must exist in the mind of the British citizen. 
Contrary to their usual practice, they trust 
more to the letter of the law than to the 
judge, and take infinite pains in limiting both 
his mode of procedure, and the penalties 
which he has the power to inflict. In civil 
cases, on the other hand, the dispute is most 
frequently between two private persons. 
The judge is then supposed to be impartial, 
for, in this instance, partiality would evi- 
dently be culpable. Consequently, less hesi- 
tation is shown in extending his powers : it 
is frequently left to him to interpret and 
apply the law, and, when occasion arises, 
to add to it if necessary. 

And this is what is so strikingly notice- 
able in India. The work of criminal legis- 
lation is complete: the Penal Code' drawn 

' This Code, which was first of all applied to that 
part of India which is under the direct control of the 
Crown, has, by degrees, with the consent of the native 


up by a commission presided over by Lord 
Macaulay, can vie with any existing judicial 
enactment ; and the Code of Criminal Pro- 
cedure, as well as the Evidence Act afford 
ample security. On the other hand, the 
enactments relating to Civil Procedure are 
incomplete. A few years since, a Code of 
Civil Procedure was completed ; and a gen- 
eral law pertaining to contracts was passed: 
but the rest is little more than mere matters 
of detail and organisation. 

For this, however, no blame can be im- 
puted to the British Government. It would 
have been an easy matter for the •latter to 
impose the whole mass of British civil legis- 
lation on the country. Assuredly we French- 
men should have done so. We imagine that 
our codes are adapted in their entirety to every 
locality ; accordingly we have introduced them 
with hardly any alteration into the four cor- 
ners of the globe. ^ The British are more 

princes, been introduced into the feudatory States, such 
as that of Nizam, etc. Cf. especially the legislative work 
of the Maharajah of Bhavnagar, 1892. 

* This custom, which dates from the monarchy, was 
perfectly explicable in former times. Our old colonies, 
the '*New France" of which Richelieu dreamed, had to 
be populated, and were effectively populated by nume- 
rous French colonists, who naturally took with them 
their provincial customs. As to the aboriginal inhabi- 
tants of the country, where such existed, they had— al- 
ways according to the ideas of the time — to be convert- 
ed, and made French subjects. As a consequence, 


cautious. In their opinion legislation should 
differ in different latitudes^ and every coun- 
try requires laws suited to its special cir- 
cumstances. In such a country as India, 
the difficulty is greatly increased by the 
diversity of races and religions. This diver- 
sity prohibits uniform legislation and renders 
codification well-nigh impossible. This is 
why Great Britain has confined herself to 
legalising religious precepts here and local 
customs there, whilst governments, instead 
of directing their efforts to the enactment 
of laws, have aimed rather at the recruit- 
ment of judges. 

To all appearance a legislation alike so 
humane and so cautious might, without in- 
convenience, have been transferred bodily 
to Lower Burma, and even supposing some 
scruples had arisen — as was the case — at 
the time of the first conquest, these scruples 
would, at any rate^ have ceased to exist 
after long years of rule. The British have 
occupied a portion of Lower Burma since 
1826, and another since 1852, i. ^., for 65 
years in the one case, and for 40 years in 

French laws were quite naturally applicable to them. 
To-day, our colonies are, for the most part, no longer 
colonies, but possessions^ and we have relinquished the 
idea of converting, and naturalising the aborigines. 
Since then, the legal rigime of that time has become an 


the Other. But although so long a period 
has elapsed, during which the work of assim- 
ilation must have made continual progress, 
the laws in force in Burma still differ from 
those of the rest of India. They differ very 
essentially in many respects. 

To begin with, there are special law^s only 
applicable to Burma. Some are laws which are 
adapted exclusively to the customs of the pro- 
vince, in view of the exigencies of the country ; 
others are native customs which have received 
legal sanction. Thus civil rank, marriages, 
religious questions, inheritance, are all regu- 
lated by local custom. '' In all such questions,'' 
to quote the law entitled the Lower Btirma 
Courts Act of 1889 — observe the date — '^the 
law applicable will be the Buddhist law, if 
the parties are Buddhists ; the Mohammedan 
law, if the parties are Mohammedans ; the 
Hindu law, if the parties are Hindus ; unless 
these laws have been decidedly altered or abro- 
gated, or are opposed to some legalised 
custom in Low^er Burma." This proviso 
is a very natural one ; a similar proviso is 
met with in nearly all the provinces of the 
Indian Empire. It is the application of the 
Indian legislative principle : the adapting of 
laws to the various countries and populations. 

But now comes something still more cu- 
rious and instructive. The codes and gene- 
ral laws of India : the penal code, the code 


of criminal procedure, the code of civil pro- 
cedure^ the law of contracts, etc., have in- 
deed been promulgated in Lower Burma, 
but only after certain modifications had been 
introduced, which the state of the province 
appeared to render necessary. Thus, both 
the mode of procedure and the administra- 
tion of justice have been much simplified. 
Nor is this all ; even in this simplified form 
they have not been made use of throughout 
the entire extent of Lower Burma, but mere- 
ly in the districts which have reached the 
highest state of civilisation. The other dis- 
tricts have been submitted to a totally 
different legal regime^ represented almost 
entirely by the two laws which are famous 
throughout India : the Scheduled Districts Act 
of 1874, and the Statute Victoria 33, Chap- 
ter 3, Section i. 

The Indian Scheduled Districts Act grants 
special conditions to certain specially desig- 
nated districts. These districts are, as a 
rule, mountainous regions, or bordering on 
the frontier, or are inhabited by a popula- 
tion which is less civilised or else turbulent, 
or, lastly, by neighbours of the latter. In 
these districts the Scheduled Districts Act 
confers on the local government the power 
of selecting from the existing Indian Laws 
such as shall, either wholly or in part, re- 
main, or be put in force. Special provi- 


sion sanctioned by the Governor, in Council, 
and inserted in the Gazette is all that is 
necessary for this purpose. Further^ this same 
Act confers on the local Government the 
power of nominating the executive and the 
judges, and of estimating both their compe- 
tency and the (simplified) mode of procedure 
to be observed by them. 

Stat. Victoria 33, Chapter 3, Section i, 
goes still further. It reasons that the exist- 
ing laws, even though thus adapted^ would 
but imperfectly answer to the requirements 
of these Scheduled Districts, and empowers 
the local Government, with the previous ap- 
proval of the Governor-General in Council^ 
to make special regulations for them^ virtu- 
ally equivalent to laws, but which do not 
require the sanction of the legislature. 

Such are in outline the features of the 
legislation of Lower Burma. With such a 
multiplicity of precautions, and with so in- 
genious and elastic a machinery as that pro- 
vided by the Scheduled Districts Act and the 
Statute Victoria jj. Chapter j. Section /, it 
would seem as if the whole of these laws 
might have been put in force de piano on 
the very day that the British entered Upper 
Burma. Nothing of the sort occurred, how- 
ever : the new province was subjected to a 
regime of special regulations which could 
admit of constant modification and could be 


adapted de die in diem to the existing situ- 

Lord Dufferin in the Memorandum addres- 
sed to the Secretary of State for India^ (to 
which I have already alluded), in which he 
recommends the annexation of Burma, fur- 
thermore added this express condition : ^^ In 
the present state of affairs no steps should 
be taken to put in force in the province 
any portion of the laws of India. I would 
suggest, (he adds), that the Secretary of State 
for India should, by an order in Council, 
declare the Statute Victoria jj. Chapter j 
Section i applicable to the whole of Upper 
Burma, with the exception, however, of the 
wShan States. This would admit of the local 
administration formulating a set of simple 
regulations which after being submitted for 
approval to the Governor-General, would 
embrace all matters to be placed on a well- 
defined legal basis : such as the administra- 
tion of justice, the powers of the judges and 
those of the police, and the levy of imposts. 
These regulations should be formulated in 
such a manner as to leave large discretion- 
ary powers to the local administration, so as 
to enable it to arrange all matters of detail 
by means of decrees to be amended as the 
course of time, or the dictates of their own 
experience should require it. In formulating 
these regulations the Indian Code might be 


taken as a model, but only so far as 
practicable; for the present, at any rate, not 
only would anything so complete as the Indian 
judicial system be unnecessary, but even 
any steps which might be taken with a view 
to its introduction, would be prejudicial.'' 

These wise recommendations, a model of 
foresight and broad-mindedness, were adopt- 
ed: The Secretary of State declared the 
two laws referred to above, applicable to 
Upper Burma. In virtue of the powers there- 
by conferred upon them, the local author- 
ities, with the approval of the Governor- 
General in Council, gave the province a sum- 
mary legislation, which amply sufficed for its 
primary needs. At the same time they were 
drawing up a more complete legislative 
scheme. They worked at this so success- 
fully that in the month of August, 1886, they 
were able to promulgate a new law, entitled 
the Upper Burma Laws Act^ which is still 
the Code of that part of the province. Unit- 
ing this law to those in force in the Lower 
province, the legislative regime of Burma, 
as a whole, may thus be summarised : — 

Burma is divided, as regards the laws 
applicable thereto, into five regions. The first 
comprises the greater portion of old British 
Burma, the laws of which have already been 
described : with the exception of the devia- 
tions mentioned, the legislation is similar to 



that in force in the rest of India ; the second 
comprises the greater portion of old Upper 
Burma, the legislation of which was deter- 
mined by the law of the 24th September, 
1886: this legislation is composed either of 
special laws, or of laws or portions there- 
of borrowed in their entirety, or with neces- 
sary modifications, from the judicial systems 
of India or Lower Burma; it is, on the whole, 
infinitely more simple and less formal than 
that of either of those countries. The third 
region comprises certain districts of Lower 
Burma to which it was not thought possible 
to apply the legislation in force in that part 
of the province, and for which, by virtue of 
the Scheduled Districts Act^ a less complex 
legislative system was elaborated, which, how- 
ever, does not affect all alike ; the fourth 
comprises the districts of Upper Burma 
which were placed under an exceptional 
regime^ either more complete and more for- 
mal than the ordinary regime of Upper Burma 
— such as the district of Mandalay, — or, on 
the contrary, still more concise and simple, — 
such as a large number of districts bordering 
on the Shan States or on the frontier; the 
fifth comprises the Shan States, in which 
the legislation is still more rudimentary. 

But even all the above distinctions give 
but an imperfect idea of the elaborate and 
wise complexity of the legislation. The dis- 


tricts called Scheduled Districts possess, 
notwithstanding their uniform denomination, 
and in virtue of the powers conferred on 
the local authorities, legislative systems which 
differ one from the other, and each of which 
may, in addition, vary from day to day ac- 
cording to circumstances. Nay, more ; those 
of Upper Burma approach a certain type, 
those of Lower Burma another; so that the 
law of the 24th September, 1886, provided 
for the case, which was more than once 
realised, of its being considered desirable to 
transfer a district or a portion of a district 
from Upper to Lower Burma, and vice versd^ 
so as to render applicable to it the legis- 
lation in force in such other district. 

The object of such a multiplicity of dis- 
tinctions is, as may be surmised, but the 
desire of avoiding two dangers of a contrary 
nature. One is that of imposing on the 
populations a legal regime which may either 
be too compHcated for them, or may offend 
their religious scruples or their customs, and 
of rushing prematurely into costly, super- 
fluous, and often even embarrassing organi- 
sations. The other danger is that of leaving 
— on the pretext that the time had not yet 
arrived — a whole country for several years 
without fixed laws or a regularly constituted 
administration, and requiring an arbitrary 
solution — of which the British in their rela- 


tions with one another have a horror — of all 
the difficulties. Whatever complication may 
be entailed by these distinctions, they have 
the effect of securing the above twofold 
result : and that is the main point. Apart 
from this, it may be urged against them that 
they demand greater attainments and more 
tact on the part of the executive and judi- 
cial officers. The British have long since 
overcome this difficulty. 

Note to Legislation of Lower Burma (p. 213). — 
The objection has, however, been made to this 
legislation that it is too complicated for those to whom 
it is applied. In a series of letters addressed to The 
Times in August and September, 1888, a native of Brit- 
ish Burma, Mr Chantoon, recently appointed Chief Justice 
in the Court of Small Causes at Rangoon, declares (cf. 
notably the letter of i8th September) that this legisla- 
tion is too advanced for at least one-half of the Burmese 
and, though good in itself, is of no efficacy. He holds 
that its application to Upper Burma is inadvisable. The 
two provinces should (he opines) be kept entirely sep- 
arate; Upper Burma should be allowed to accomplish 
an evolution "of some centuries" before the laws and 
the governmental and administrative forms of India and 
of Lower Burma are introduced ; meanwhile the national 
customs would serve as a guide: the legislation should 
be but a compilation of the laws of Buddha and Manu. 
(See, on this subject, the chapter entitled "The Laws 
and Law-courts of India" in Sir John Strachey's work 
" India.") 



Advantages of a good selection of officials — Various 
methods of selection : by competitive examina- 
tions and influence — Combination of these me- 
thods in France — The method employed for ob- 
taining a supply of colonial officials, 


There is, perhaps, no body of officials in 
the world who are chosen with greater care 
or with happier results than the officials of 
India. ^ I should hesitate to extend this 
encomium to the officials of all the British 


' In the present survey, we shall throughout confine 
ourselves exclusively to the " Civil Service," /. ^., the 
w^ officials of high rank belonging to one of the two bran- 

^ ches, executive and judicial, a veritable civil staff-corps, 

whose functions may not inaccurately be compared with 
those of our /Residents' in Indo-China. To be quite 
complete, we might describe — and it would be a very 
instructive subject— the methods of recruiting the tech- 
nical services, such as public works, telegraphs, forests, 
railways, etc. ; but this would occupy far too much of 
our space. 


possessions; but in India the method of 
recruitment has been organised with a host 
of precautions, and furnishes a supply of 
men of such merit as to defy comparison. 

There are two methods by which a Gov- 
ernment can obtain a supply of officials. 

One is that of examinations : candidates 
are invited to give a proof of their talents, 
and with rare exceptions are chosen in the 
order of merit determined by the examina- 
tion. The other method is that of free 
selection by competent authorities. Both 
methods have their advantages. If the said 
competent authorities always owed their 
competency to their knowledge as well as 
to their position, the officials freely selected 
by them would be very superior to those 
selected by open competition. They would 
not, in fact, be hampered in their choice by 
any of the impediments which the competi- 
tive system encounters or gives rise to. 
They could choose men who had already 
exceeded the limit of age, or also such as 
had given a tardy proof of their merits in 
other vocations; above all, they could take 
into account not merely technical knowledge, 
but also intellectual and moral qualifications 
or physical fitness, the possession of which 
by a candidate can only be certified with 
difficulty by the prescribed tests. 

Unfortunately, the parliamentary or repre- 


sentative form of government now in vogue 
almost all over the world, affords no guar- 
antee that the authorities who are compe- 
tent in virtue of their office, are so also in 
virtue of their merits. For this reason com- 
petitive examinations, in spite of their many 
inconveniences, are still preferable to free 
selection, or to call it by its true name, 
selection by influential interest. 

As a matter of fact, no Government thinks 
of confining itself exclusively to one alone 
of these two methods of selection. They 
all make use of both methods conjointly, 
and differ from each other only in their 
proportionate use of one or the other method. 
One has more recourse to the competitive 
system, the other, to free selection. 

With us a very curious phenomenon is 
met with in regard to this point. The ma- 
jority of our high functionaries are only ap- 
pointed after they have furnished repeated 
proofs of their abilities. Certain of our 
departments, in fact the most important 
among them, derive their best officials from 
the competitive system. Thus, the Public 
Works Department, the Educational, and 
Financial Departments require their engineers, 
their professors, their inspectors to pass 
complicated tests as a proof not merely of 
their merits, but of their superiority. And, 
except in special cases or under extraordi- 


nary circumstances, no one can become a 
Drofessor, an inspector, or an engineer unless 
le passes these competitive examinations. 

Other departments which are not so exact- 
ing, reserve, indeed, the right of nominating 
exceptionally to their higher posts, persons 
who have not passed a competitive examina- 
tion, but they nevertheless adhere to the 
latter test in the case of candidates who are 
commencing their career ; this is the method 
adopted by the Council of State, the Court 
of Exchequer, etc. 

And these examinations and tests are no 
mere child's play; they are tests of the 
highest class, and those who pass them are 
almost master-minds. Our engineers, as a 
scientific body, are unrivalled in any country 
in the world ; our educational department is 
at least on a par with those of the most 
cultured nations ; as to our financial inspec- 
tors, their merits are so highly appreciated 
that private establishments vie with the State 
in offering high emoluments for their ser- 

Thus, in France, the supply of officials 
is, as a general rule, obtained by competi- 
tive examinations. To this rule, there is but 
one exception of any importance; and that 
is with regard to the candidates for the post 
of prefect. This exception is, however, in 
reality one of those which may be said to 


prove the rule. What are the chief quaHfi- 
cations requisite in a prefect? Are they 
those of the lawyer, the financier, the engi- 
neer, etc? Not at all. Doubtless a prefect 
has to occupy himself with law, finance, 
public works, education, and relief, and an 
absolute ignorance of any one of these sub- 
jects would be prejudicial to the State. But 
what would be still more prejudicial would 
be a lack of political acumen. A prefect, 
at least according to our French notions, is 
above all things a political agent. Know- 
ledge of law, of finance, or of applied mathe- 
matics are not so essentially requisite to a good 
prefect as the combination of various talents 
which might very easily be passed over by 
examiners, and the possession of which the 
Minister of the Interior reserves to himself 
the right of verifying, on his own responsi- 
bility, in candidates for posts which he fills 
up. Thus, the absence of a competitive 
examination for the important office of pre- 
fect is amply justified ; and, in a general 
way, it may well be said that, in France, the 
higher grade of officials is mainly recruited 
by competition. 

Nevertheless — and here the curious phe- 
nomenon to which we have referred, is no- 
ticeable — this is true only in regard to the 
home officials. Take for instance, the profes- 
sors in our scholastic institutions. Their imme- 


diate superior is the Inspector, over whom 
are Inspectors General; the latter again are 
controlled by a superior Council, the Chief 
of the Department being the Minister of 
Public Instruction. Their duties are con- 
fined within strict limits, they possess but the 
smallest liberty of independent action, but can 
clear up any doubtful matter in a few hours 
by reference to higher quarters. And yet 
they have to give a proof of professional 
capacity by passing a formidable examina- 
tion for admission to the service. 

The engineers, who are controlled by an 
equally formidable establishment, and the 
majority of whom will in the whole course 
of their lives have no more important works 
to supervise than such as would be almost 
beneath the dignity of an ordinary road- 
surveyor, — the engineers have to undergo 
examinations, the very preparation for which 
makes them savants. I might say as much 
for many other of the home officials. 

Our colonial officials, on the other hand, 
who, when far from home without any ad- 
vice and sometimes uncontrolled, are requir- 
ed to exercise duties of the most delicate 
and varied nature amongst peoples of whom 
they have little knowledge, and who are en- 
trusted with very extensive powers, are ad- 
mitted to the service de piano ^ without any 
competition or guarantee. It is true that 


several zealous and distinguished Under-Sec- 
retaries of State have repeatedly issued in- 
structions and regulations regarding the nom- 
ination and promotion of these officials ; 
it is also true that they have instituted ex- 
aminations and minutely prescribed the sub- 
jects thereof. But excepting that for the 
commissariat and the higher grade, bodies 
which are recruited in a totally different 
manner, the subjects set are childish, and 
the examinations a mere mockery. We now 
have, it is true, a Colonial School which is 
undoubtedly an immense advance on the pre- 
vious state of affairs; but apart from its 
being still defective in certain respects — no- 
tably in that candidates are admitted without 
examination — its period of activity has as 
yet been too short to admit of the attain- 
ment of any appreciable results. So that, 
at the present moment^ in spite of instruc- 
tions, resolutions, orders, examinations and 
examination papers, it may be asserted — I 
have elsewhere proved it by an abundance 
of expert evidence — that, save in rare ex- 
ceptions^ the French colonial service owes 
its best officials, not to examinations or com- 
petition, but to a selection made on individ- 
ual responsibility, i.e.^ purely to interest. 

As a contrast to the above, it may not, 
perhaps, be unprofitable to inquire how the 
British have, chiefly by means of competitive 


examinations, obtained their efficient supply 
of officials for India, or properly speaking, 
for the Indian province of Burma, which is 
now under discussion. 




Political theory upon which the recruitment of officials 
is based — Two methods of recruitment: open 
competition and free selection — The Covenanted 
Civil Service and competition; drawbacks to the 
competitive system; how they were met and coun-- 
teracted; examiners and examination-papers — 
Necessity of an extensive general education — 
Admission and ^^admissibility — Period of 
probation — the time when candidates devote them- 
selves to the study of special subjects — The 
Uncovenanted Civil Service^ and free selection 
— One method the completion of the other. 

The method by which the officials of India 
are recruited is based on a certain number 
of — I do not venture to say — principles, but 
statements and even hypotheses, which in 
the eyes of the British, after long experience, 
have acquired the value of actual principles. 
Let us proceed to indicate them in their 
strict order. 

India is to Great Britain a possession of 



the highest importance. Good government 
and administration are essential for the tran- 
quillity of the Mother Country, for the good 
order of her finances, and also for the devel- 
opment of her wealth. India is not a nation, 
nor yet a country. It is a collection of a 
hundred dissimilar countries, a juxtaposition 
of a hundred different peoples, the majority 
of whom have nothing in common : neither 
language, religion, customs, needs nor aspi- 
rations. This infinite subdivision, which af- 
fords such facilities for rule, is, on the con- 
trary, the cause of innumerable difficulties 
to the government and the executive admin- 

From the very fact of its complex nature 
India can only be ruled, and especially . ad- 
ministered, by those who have thoroughly 
studied it. Such a study is a lengthy and 
difficult matter, and moreover, is insuffi- 
cient by itself. The peoples of India are so 
far distant, their modes of thought so differ- 
ent to ours, that even a man who has a 
knowledge of their history and their man- 
ners and customs, and is conversant with 
the idioms of their language, will be une- 
qual to the task unless he also be a psy- 
chologist. But knowledge and its practical 
application — for nothing less than this is 
necessary — are gifts only possessed by a 
select few. The officials of India must there- 


fore be recruited from the elite of the nation. 
The problem one has to solve is how to 
attract this elite} Some allurement must be 
held out to induce them to undertake a 
course of study which at the outset is irk- 
some, and later, to submit to years of expa- 
triation. This allurement will be the certainty 
of an interesting, honourable, sometimes even 
glorious and on the whole lucrative career. 
But these advantages which are offered to 
the elite are bound to attract many who by 
no means belong to it: the important point 
is, then, to separate them, and to find a 
criterion whereby such a separation may be 
effectually accomplished. The desired crite- 
rion will chiefly take the nature of severe 
competitive examinations, tests such as are 
really worthy of an elite \ and in a lesser 
way a selection made with discrimination 
by experienced persons from men of ability 
wherever they may be revealed. 

Such is, briefly narrated, the system and 
its logical basis. Let us now proceed to 
consider more fully the details of this method. 

The plan of governing a tropical country 
by the elite of a European nation seems at 
first sight chimerical, but in reality, of all 
the problems to be faced but one presented 
any real difficulty. This was, how to ob- 
tain by competition the imperative supply of 
men of such varied and needful qualifications. 


A competitive examination furnishes as a 
rule only a single guarantee : viz., that at a 
given time, a given individual possessed cer- 
tain necessary acquirements. Now this guar- 
antee was here totally inadequate. Com- 
petition would fall short of what was required 
of it unless it certified that the candidate 
possessed the faculty of learning, as well 
as that of comparing, and judging. Even 
this, however, was not sufficient : it must also 
afford information as to his physical fitness, his 
morals, and his character. So many require- 
ments are apparently excessive and incapable 
of being attained to, but the British thought 
otherwise. They reckoned on being able 
to discover a method of selecting examiners, 
of formulating examination-papers, and of 
organising tests which would supply all the 
necessary information respecting candidates. 
An examiner is too often but a very learn- 
ed man, a great specialist, and extremely 
uninterested. He sees the candidate for an 
hour or possibly a week, hands him his certi- 
ficate, and then loses sight of him altogether. 
Examiners for the Indian Civil Service are 
not professional scholars : they are usually 
retired Indian officials who, as a reward for 
their merit, are appointed Civil Service Com- 
missioners. They are not specialists : during 
the years that they have been on active 
duty, they have gained an insight into all 


the details of the Service. Nor are they 
uninterested : having spent half their life in 
India, they take a keen interest in its pros- 
perity. Their part in these Examinations is no 
mere temporary one; they are in no hurry to 
quit their post and forget both competition and 
candidates: part of their duty consists in the 
drawing up of examination-papers and the 
arrangement of all details connected w^ith the 
competition, while they are expected at the 
same time to acquire a personal and intimate 
knowledge of each individual candidate. To 
them do the candidates apply for permission to 
compete ; by them they are submitted to a pre- 
vious test, a sort of inquiry into their physical 
and moral qualifications, during which a pre- 
liminary and rapid opinion is formed as to their 
health, and their character; and the candi- 
dates, after passing the preliminary exam- 
ination, and during the period of probation, 
will have to convince them of their diligence, 
and of their physical and moral soundness ; 
and lastly from them, after passing the further 
examination, will they receive the famous 
certificate, without which the Secretary of 
State for India would refuse to accept them 
as officials in his Department. These Com- 
missioners who have thus for months followed 
and watched the candidates, may surely be 
considered qualified either to reject or to 
admit them. 



Moreover, the very manner in which they 
regulate the tests and formulate the exam- 
ination-papers is an additional aid to their 
zeal and their perspicacity. 

The competition, as we have cursorily re- 
marked, consists of two tests. The British 
call them : Open competition (the preliminary 
examination), and Final examination (for the 
candidates selected at the open competition). 
The first corresponds very nearly to what 
with us is termed '^admissibility ", the second 
to our ** admission". But — and this is a 
characteristic feature of the British system — 
the examination for admission (or Anglice^ 
final examination) does not take place until 
long after that of admissibility {Anglice^ 
preliminary examination). Meanwhile the 
candidates declared admissible (selected) 
become probationers. They are on their 
trial for a year, and what is required of 
them to successfully pass through the ordeal, 
follows : 

Primarily, they are bound to keep healthy 
and be well-behaved which, — take it as you 
may — is no trifling matter for young people 
of twenty years of age. Anything having a 
tendency to impair their health, or to tarnish 
their character, and which would result in 
their being less capable or less worthy of 
the part which they are destined to play, 
might at the close of their probation lead to 


the certificate of fitness being withheld. And 
these are no mere empty threats : the very 
Civil Service Commissioners who examined 
them in the Open Competition carefully 
watch them during the probationary period, 
and will again be their examiners in the final 

Again, they have to render themselves 
proficient in horsemanship. They are sub- 
mitted to a very searching inspection by a 
cavalry officer, and if this officer reports them 
unable to ride long distances, positive jour- 
neys, they are rejected as unfit for the Indian 
Civil Service. 

Lastly, they have to take up special subjects. 
In fact, the preliminary examination which 
is the stepping-stone to probation is charac- 
terised by two peculiarities. The papers set, 
though very lengthy, comprised, so to speak, 
no technical subjects; and, in addition to this^ 
not one of the subjects is obligatory. This 
is a very original idea, and one deserving of 
special mention. 

It dates from 1854, and owes its origin to 
a Commission of Reform presided over by 
Lord Macaulay. 

Lord Macaulay has presided over more 
than one Commission on Indian affairs, and 
his influence, notably in educational matters, 
has not been invariably beneficial. But in 
the case which we are now considering the 


fairness and practical intelligence displayed 
in his proposals could not be too highly 
commended. He it was who, if not the first, 
was, at any rate, the most lucid exponent 
of the ambitious design, to which I have 
already alluded, of governing India by the 
elite of the British nation. But where — to 
take up his argument — is this elite to be 
found? Doubtless in those colleges, at those 
Universities, through which all that is most 
distinguished in the nation has passed, and 
is passing year by year. Therefore, our 
duty plainly lies in endeavouring to attract 
to the Ser\'ice the best scholars of Oxford, 
and Cambridge, and other Universities, the 
young men who have just taken their first 
degree, and have not yet definitely fixed on 
their future vocation. 

And how shall we induce them to fix on 
this Indian career? By smoothing the path 
which leads thereto. Let us consider for a 
moment what our present examinations are. 
They bristle with special subjects and tech- 
nical knowledge, and their nature is such 
that not one of our Bachelors of Arts can 
dream of competing without a long course 
of preparation. There lies the obstacle which 
diverts from us such a wealth of intelligence 
and which it is incumbent upon us to remove. 
We must formulate our examination papers 
in such a way that the classical ciirricultu?i 


of our Universities may constitute per se an 
almost complete course of preparation for 
our open competition. The prize-man of 
Oxford must be, so to speak, welcomed by 
us in just the same way as he would be 
spontaneously welcomed in any other quar- 
ter; the man who fails to pass our tests 
must with the same intellectual knowledge 
which we require, be able to follow twenty 
other professions and not find to his regret, 
after devoting so considerable a portion of 
his time to us, that the path he had fol- 
lowed led to us only, and nowhere else. 
The offer of such inducements is bound to 
attract the vigorous and flourishing youth of 
England, whose co-operation is indispensable 
to us. 

Such was the line of Lord Macaulay's 
argument, or the one which he is credited 
with. And when it was objected that exam- 
ination-papers of such a nature would afford 
no security, and that officials so recruited 
would possess no technical qualifications, his 
usual reply was recently recalled to my me- 
mory by the apparent paradox in M. Fouillee's 
^^Reforme de Tenseignement." *'The scien- 
tific mind?" remarks M. Fouillee, ^^ nothing 
is better adapted to reveal it than a well- 
rendered translation." And the same with 
Macaulay: *^ Security? I know of none more 
reliable than that of a sound general edu- 





cation the best, the most Hberal, the most 
finished that our country affords. ' 

** Experience has proved it : an education 
of this kind is the best preparation for any 
profession requiring the exercise of high 
intellectual faculties. It would be difficult 
to prove that such a preparation is less 
indispensable for an Indian Civil Servant 
than for a private person who intends to 
devote himself to a profession in England. 
The very reverse is the case. An Indian 
Civil Servant is in greater need of a good 
general education than any professional man 
living in England. The duties incumbent 
on even a very young Indian . civilian are 
more important than those which ordinarily 
devolve on an English professional man. 
Moreover, a person engaged in a profession 
in his native land may, while conceding the 
foremost place to his occupation, continue 
to improve his mind by reading and con- 

The Indian civilian is often, for a great 

* From a recent perusal of the examination papers 
for the Open Competitions of the last few years, I think 
I may assert that, with rare exceptions, not one of the 
pupils of even our highest "lyc^es" could scrape through 
them, and that we should have to search among the 
licentiates of our Universities for candidates capable of 
successfully facing such ordeals. (See the annual publi- 
cations, entitled Open Competition and Final Examination 
for the Civil Service of India), 


portion of his life, stationed far from libra- 
ries, or the society of Europeans : it will 
therefore be especially difficult for him when 
he has reached a ripe age, to fill up by study 
any gaps in his earlier education". 

This argument prevailed : the examination 
papers were drawn up in accordance with Lord 
Macaulay's views. Since 1854 they have 
been frequently remodelled, but the same 
spirit still pervades them. Consult the India 
Office List of 1 89 1; look up the papers 
for the preliminary examination of 1891 and 
1892, and you will find that a large propor- 
tion of them is- devoted to literature, science 
in all its branches, history, and living lan- 
guages ; technical knowledge is very modestly 
represented : a few chapters of Indian His- 
tory, the rudiments of Sanscrit or Arabic, 
and that is all. Special subjects are reserved 
for the later period of probation. 

This probationary period for the study 
of special subjects and for general improve- 
ment is not an entirely novel idea to us 
Frenchmen. We stated just now that the 
preliminary examination which is the step- 
ping-stone to probation, corresponds to what 
we call ^^admissibility": the period of probation 
corresponds to the term^ passed at our public 
schools, of which the ^^Ecole Poly technique " 
is at present the most advanced type; the 
examination at the close of this period cor- 


responds to what we call the admission or 
better the egress examination; lastly, we 
shall meet with a final institution w^hich cor- 
responds to our ^* school of application". The 
British system does not therefore differ so 
materially from ours as might be supposed. 
Its originality chiefly consists in the ingenuity 
and prudence displayed in the details of its 
execution. We have just demonstrated this 
in regard to the papers for the preliminary 
examination ; we shall have to prove it again 
in more than one particular. 

It is a characteristic feature of the so-called 
probationary period that the probationer can 
spend it wherever he pleases. All that is 
required of him is that he should satisfactorily 
pass the final examination, so that he can pre- 
pare for the latter wherever seems best to him, 
either by studying at home, or at any school 
that he may choose. "^ Yet it is evidently to 
India's interest that this preparation should 

' This system evidently possesses great advantages: 
it is an excellent means of decentralisation; families are 
thereby exempted from large pecuniary sacrifices, and 
lastly it allows the young men a good deal of indepen- 
dence and initiative. On the other hand, the (French) 
* ^coles d'application' have the advantage in other respects. 
In a * school of application * for one special subject, where 
the pupils are continually brought into contact with 
specially selected professors, it is easier to instil into 
their minds the needful instruction, whilst at the same 
time a better knowledge can be obtained of their indi- 
vidual qualifications. The professors, and the principal 


be as complete and thorough as possible. 
Indeed, it is thus possible to maintain a higher 
standard of study, and to admit none but 
officials of real merit. To attain this object, 
scholarships of ^loo (formerly ^300, when 
the term of probation was two years) are 
offered to candidates who are willing to go 
through a course of study at one of the 
Universities or at a specially designated Col- 
lege. These Universities and Colleges are 
distributed throughout the Kingdom, in 
England, Scotland, and Ireland, thus ena- 
bling the pupils to be at a short distance 
from home. 

Whether the candidate pursues his course 
of study at the specified Colleges, or works 
at home, he still remains under the control 
of the Civil Service Commissioners with whom 
he is bound to keep up a relationship, at 
least a correspondence. The Commissioners 
make inquiries (formerly official^ but now, 
apparently, purely perfunctory) as to their 
conduct, their state of health and physical 
development, and, at the end of the year of 
probation, they proceed with the final exam- 
compare and classify the pupils ; they become acquainted 
with the character, and the intellectual and moral capac- 
ity, of each individual; and can form an estimate of 
what each will be capable of accomplishing. These 
prognostications formed while the young men are still 
at school, have, I admit, their objectionable points, but 
are nevertheless not without their advantages. 


ination which is to allow the probationer 
to become an actual Indian Civil Servant. 

This final examination likewise merits a 
few words of explanation : it comprises sub- 
jects which are for the most part technical 
as well as obligatory, and thus differs in two 
respects from the preliminary examination. 

In this preliminary examination, indeed, the 
Commission presided over by Lord Macaulay 
wished, as may be remembered, to give the 
candidates every chance. Opining that it 
was not sufficient that the subjects set in the 
examination-papers should resemble as closely 
as possible those comprised in the classical 
curriculum of the Universities, the Commis- 
sion decided further that none of the subjects 
should be obligatory. These papers, then, 
(which, by the way, are very lengthy) are 
divided into four main divisions — science, 
literature, history, languages; and a large 
number of subdivisions ; it is optional for the 
candidate to neglect this or that division, or 
even this or that subdivision, and to study 
merely what he pleases. As, however, in 
order to qualify, he must obtain a certain 
number of marks, it is obviously to his ad- 
vantage to take up such a number of subjects 
as will insure his obtaining a sufficient total 
from the added quota of marks given for 
each subject. But apart from this necessity, 
there is nothing to influence his choice. 


Though a British citizen, he may decline 
to be questioned on the history of his native 
country, and though a future Indian official, 
on Sanscrit or Arabic. He has only to an- 
swer, indeed, he is only questioned on the 
subjects he has previously named; moreover, 
in each subject he himself defines the range 
of his studies. Take History, for instance, 
even the History of England, he need not 
pretend to possess a knowledge of the entire 
course ranging from the year 800 to 1 848 ; 
he selects an epoch, and on that epoch alone 
he offers himself for examination. On this 
particular epoch, however, the examiners 
sound him thoroughly. They inquire what 
books he has read, and taking into account 
the spirit in which they are written, they put 
him through a series of questions about char- 
acters and facts, requiring of him an account 
and a valuation of events and doctrines. 
And so it is with all the other subjects which 
he takes up. 

The Civil Service Commissioners attach 
the highest importance to this method of 
procedure. They do not intend that a can- 
didate should be able to scrape through by 
a mere superficial knowledge of any subject. 
One of the articles in the Regulations, though 
its wording is at first somewhat obscure and 
singular, reveals their actual intentions more 
clearly than anything we have hitherto stated. 


It is Article 6, which runs thus : *^ The marks 
assigned to Candidates in each branch will 
be subject to such deduction as the Civil 
Service Commissioners may deem necessary, 
in order to secure that a Candidate be 
allowed no credit at all for taking up a 
subject in which he is a mere smatterer." 

The framers of this article foresaw that 
the candidates might hit upon the following 
trick — if I may be allowed the expression — . 
Let us suppose that of the fifteen to twenty 
subjects which the examination-papers con- 
tain, the best prepared candidates have, on 
an average, selected six; that for each of 
these subjects to which a maximum number 
of, say, 500 marks are allotted — which would 
make the highest number obtainable 3000 — 
these candidates obtain 400, or say in all 
2,400 marks. A candidate of mediocre abil- 
ity, who has a smattering of every subject, 
and a thorough knowledge of none, might, 
instead of six, take up twelve subjects; 
instead of obtaining 400 marks for each 
subject might obtain 200, and thus, equally 
with those who had worked harder, make 
up a total of 2,400. Or else he might take 
up three or four subjects which he had thor- 
oughly studied and, in order to make up 
the required total, three or four others of 
which he had scarcely mastered the rudi- 
ments. In either case his little trick will 


avail him nought. The Commissioners, as 
soon as they become aware of his imperfect 
knowledge of one or more subjects will 
subsequently reduce the number of marks 
allotted to him for the subjects best known. 
Let us say, for instance, that in Latin of 
which he has a good knowledge, he had 
obtained 750 out of a possible 800 marks; 
and, similarly, in chemistry 450 out of a 
possible 500; whereas in Greek or in Sans- 
crit, which subjects he had himself specially 
named, he has proved himself to be incom- 
petent. On this account alone, the Com- 
missioners will reduce his marks for Latin 
to 650, and those for chemistry to 300, 
which will prevent his passing. 

What, then, is the object of this method 
which differs so largely from our ow^n usual 
practice ? The object is to avoid the ordi- 
nary commonplace results of examinations. 
Instead of proving that the candidate pos- 
sesses a retentive memory and a docile mind, 
the aim in view is, to make sure of his 
sagacity and judgment. An effort is made 
to find out what he is capable of when he 
has to go to the root of a matter; w^hat he 
will be able to do when thrown upon his 
own resources, and when, no longer a schol- 
ar under tutelage, he will have become a 
free and responsible agent. 

Such is the preliminary examination. The 


final examination which closes the probation- 
ary period, and on passing which the can- 
didate obtains the certificate of fitness for 
service in India, is quite another matter: its 
subjects are both technical and, for the most 
part, obligatory. The preliminary examina- 
tion admitted educated gentlemen to a period 
of probation ; the probationary period opens , 
up a career to experts, and such only. 
What is now required of them is entirely 
special knowledge: not a knowledge of gen- 
eral, English or Indian history; not a know- 
ledge of law, whether Roman, English or 
Indian ; nor yet of Sanscrit or Arabic alone, 
but of Persian, the language spoken at Mo- 
hammedan Courts, and of the vulgar tongue 
of the province where they are to be sta- 
tioned: such as Hindustani, Burmese, etc. 
And these acquirements are no longer option- 
al, they are almost all obligatory. In fact, 
it is no longer a question of testing the 
intellectual capacity of the candidate — that 
has already been ascertained — but of certi- 
fying his professional knowledge. 

Finally, as if such a number of regulations 
might still prove inefficacious, and as a 
means of forming an accurate estimate of 
the candidate's value not merely as scholar 
but as man, exceptional importance is attri- 
buted to the viva voce portion of the exam- 
ination. Originally, candidates had to un- 


dergo a viva voce examination on certain 
subjects only : such as English, Greek and 
Latin; now, and since the year 1858, this 
has been extended to all subjects. 

^^We attach," the Civil Service Commis- 
sioners stated in a report issued some time 
since, ^^ great importance to this test. The 
object of the viva voce examination is two- 
fold: to test the reality of the candidate's 
knowledge, and, further, to bring into play 
those qualities respecting which an examin- 
ation conducted in writing can elicit little, 
if any, information: viz., to ascertain whether 
he is quick-witted, self-reliant, and a possessor 
of moral courage." 

And, twenty years after this first report, 
a special Commission added the following : 
*^ The views of our predecessors meet with 
our unanimous approval. The viva voce ex- 
amination affords a skilful and conscientious 
examiner the opportunity of ascertaining 
whether the candidate's written answers are 
due to a very retentive memory or to a 
thorough knowledge of the subjects which 
he has studied. At the same time it brings 
to light in the candidate qualities of another 
sort, which are, however, of considerable 
importance for future Indian Civil Servants. 
When it is considered what an exceptional 
position they occupy, and what a wide range 
of interests is confided to their care, it may 


be said without any exaggeration that an 
error of principle in regard to their selection, 
whether it be due to an imperfect know- 
ledge of their subjects, or to partiality on 
the part of the examiner, is bound to lead 
to results, the deleterious effects of which 
will only become apparent when they are 
beyond the reach of remedy. " ^ 

After the adoption of so many precau- 
tionary measures in selecting these officials 
it might be supposed that on their arrival 
in India they would be permitted at once 
to commence their first campaign against the 
enemy, by being appointed to some post 
up country. The Civil Service Commission 
and the Secretary of State for India have 
very wisely decided otherwise. 

The young *' Competition Wallahs " com- 
mence their career as the ^^assistants'' of 
superior officials. This is their term of what 
we call '^ecole d'application, " the only dif- 
ference being that they spend it hi loco ^ 
instead of at school. In order to clearly, and 
briefly indicate, the position which they occupy, 
they are termed ineffective officers. They are 
ineffective in two respects : their names are 
not entered in the Official List of effective 
officers, nor do they possess any authority 

' Cf. The Report of the Public Service Commission, 
18S8, C. 5327, p. 41. 


of their own. They are pupils, and assis- 
tants. They perfect themselves in the lan- 
guage, the law, the history, and the geogra- 
phy of the province in which they will be 
called upon to reside. Their position under 
these high officials, enables them to take in 
at a glance the whole routine of business and 
the modus operandi i they thus acquire both 
practical knowledge of the entire system of 
administration, and an idea of the relative 
importance of each individual function. It is 
only on the completion of this stage, that 
they are appointed to active duty. 

A rigorous inquiry into their physical fitness, 
and their moral character; a competitive 
examination difficult for any but the most 
distinguished University-students and, in short, 
implying a very extensive general education ; 
a year of probation ; renewed inquiries ; a 
strict riding examination ; then a final ex- 
amination ; and, lastly, a stage in the capacity 
of *^ ineffective officer'': — this is what Indian 
Civil Servants have to go through before 
they are nominated to an independent post. 
And these are men who are recruited from 
the elite af the nation ! What is it that con- 
duces to this resignation or ambition on 
their part? 

We have already foreshadowed it : it is due 
to the various advantages so wisely linked to 
service in India, and which none can attain, 



without going through the prescribed course. 
To enumerate these various advantages would 
occupy too much of our space. Our colonial 
officials will fully appreciate the tranquillity 
of mind and moral satisfaction which their 
colleagues in India derive from a sure, regular 
and peaceful career, coupled with high emol- 
uments, ^ a highly liberal pension on retire- 
ment, and, lastly, the prospect of honourable 
distinction, and of a seat in the legislative 

Such is the fundamental system of recruit- 
ment which provides the British with their 
staff of Indian Civil Servants. If we look 
for the characteristic feature of this recruit- 
ment, as a corollary to the preceding explan- 
ations, we find that it is based on a tacit 
agreement between India and her executive. 
It is an agreement which involves the prin- 
ciple of do ut des, India says to those whom 
she enlists in her service: ^^ Rise higher than 
the ordinary level, and I will be liberal.'' 

* Comparison of the respective salaries of the Indo 
Chinese, and the Burmese officials: — 

I. Governor-General fcs. 120.000 

Chief Commissioner „ 160,000 

II. Superior Resident 

Commissioner of a Division . . . 

III. 1st class Resident 

Deputy Commissioner 

And observe that in the above tabular statement, we 
have added official expenses to the salary of the French, 
but not to that of the British, officials. 

, 66,000 

, 21 to 23,000 



And on both sides word is kept, and security 
furnished as well. Moreover, a formal agree- 
ment is entered into, which is termed a 
covenant. This covenant was originally, and 
apparently still is, a simple undertaking on 
the part of the official to fulfil certain obli- 
gations, to abstain from all commercial trans- 
actions, to refuse acceptance of any presents 
offered him, ^ and to make provision for the 
future of his family, etc. But in course of 
time, and without alteration in its wording, 
the purport of the covenant has undergone 
a change. For some time past there has 
been, in addition to this actual undertaking 
on the part of the official, a corresponding 
moral engagement on the part of the Gov- 
ernment to reserve to the Covenanted 
Service — the official designation of this class 
of officials — the various advantages to which 
we have just referred. '^ 

However, to be strictly correct, we should 
mention that these explanations which are 

' It is an understood thing, that the native princes 
are at liberty to make presents, and in fact they do so; 
it would be extremely impolite and very impolitic td 
refuse them ; but when received they are at once depo- 
sited "in a place set apart for this purpose and become 
the property of Government (Cf. Hiibner, op. cit., II, 
p. 31, and the Marquis of Dufferin's * Journal', 2 vols, 
in 18°., Calmann — Levy, 1890.) 

^ See notably the document entitled: East India Civil 
Servants^ 29 July, 1890, 327, p. 2. col. 2. 


in Other respects perfectly accurate, are so 
in what may be called a theoretical sense. 
In fact, on the one hand, certain officials 
sign covenants, without thereby entering into 
the Covenanted Service : their covenant is 
then merely a document setting forth the 
special conditions of their engagement. On 
the other hand, the members of the Cove- 
nanted Civil Service now no longer enjoy the 
exclusive privileges accorded to them in by- 
gone days. As their cost to the State is 
heavy, the latter endeavours to reduce their 
number. This it accomplishes in two ways : 
in requiring more work from individual mem- 
bers — to this point I shall subsequently re- 
vert, — and in intrusting others, non-members 
of the Covenanted Service, with duties which 
by the regulations should imperatively be 
reserved to that Service. 

To be sure, the Government of India, 
while conceding these exclusive privileges 
to members of the Covenanted Service, has 
reserved to itself the right of admitting to 
the Civil Service other officials recruited by 
different methods. Open competition has 
evidently failed to secure all the men of 
merit. Many, whose assistance would be 
valuable, have been discovered in other pro- 
fessions. These it endeavours to attract to 
its service, and according to circumstances, 
and to their ability, binds to it by more or 


less stringent obligations. Some are bor- 
rowed from other administrations, and are 
engaged merely temporarily, their special 
knowledge being utilised for a given period. 
Others are permanently enrolled, and incor- 
porated in what is termed the ** Uncovenant- 
ed Civil Service." ^ 

The Covenanted Service comprises solely 
the Indian Czvzl Servants^ those same officials 
with whom we have exclusively dealt in the 
course of the present study; the Uncove- 
nanted Service, a far more numerous body, 
comprises officials of all denominations : those 
of the technical departments, such as engi- 
neers, foresters, telegraphists, etc., and also 
a few of the higher class of Civil Servants. 
The latter are, however, in an infinitesimal 
minority. Here are some official figures 
bearing on this subject. The Civil Service 
numbers about 1,020 members, of whom 
about 950, including members on furlough 
and ineffective officers, are employed in the 
Covenanted Service, and about 70 in the 
Uncovenanted Service. 

On the other hand, the Uncovenanted 
Service numbers altogether about 4,800 offi- 
cials, of whom 1,600 are Europeans or Eu- 

' Cf. on this subject the following official documents: 
" Correspondence relating to the age at which candi- 
dates"... etc., 1885, C. 4580; "Report of the Public 
Service Commission", 1888, C. 5327 ; idem, 1890. C. 5926. 


rasians (half-castes), and 2,600 Asiatics. As 
will be observed, the proportion of Asiatics 
in the Uncovenanted Service is very large. 
In the Covenanted Service, on the contrary, 
it is insignificant : about ten in 950. This 
is a momentous question, both from an 
equitable and a political standpoint, and has 
long occupied the minds of thoughtful men. 

These two subsidiary methods of recruit- 
ment provide the Government of India with 
most useful servants. Thus, there are con- 
suls, for instance, who are temporarily drafted 
to a province of India adjacent to the coun- 
tries where they previously officiated : such 
were, in Burma, Messrs. Barber and Warry, 
who were selected from among the best 
British Consuls in China. Again there are 
officers taken from the Staff of the native 
army, and appropriated for an indefinite 
term to posts in the Civil Service. Thus, in 
Burma, Colonel Laughton officiated as Chief 
Secretary; Col. Fryer as Financial Com- 
missioner; Col. Sladen (whose name we 
have already mentioned) as political officer 
at the Court of King Theebaw; and a cer- 
tain number of officers of minor importance 
filled various other posts in the Civil Service. 

Lastly, the Civil Service is recruited from 
two other classes of persons : viz., from such 
as have not hitherto been in Government 
employ, and from Government officials in 


other employ than that of the Civil Ser- 
vice : they are selected by Government on 
account of their intimate acquaintance with 
certain countries, and so forth. Thus, in 
order to meet the initial requirements in 
Upper Burma, Government engaged the 
explorer, Mr. Archibald Colquhoun of the 
Engineers ; seven or eight officials of the 
telegraph, and financial departments, and 
of the police ; besides three non-official 
persons, one of whom was the Principal 
of a College, and the other two in the 
service of the Bombay-Burma Trading Cor- 

The system which we have indicated, is 
one of those which is also made use of in 
France. In Tongking, for instance, generals, 
colonels or commanding officers — some of 
high distinction, notably such as M. de 
Maussion, M. Servieres and M. Pennequin — 
held the post of ^Resident' conjointly 
with their military commands; and several 
officers of all grades have occupied civil 
posts in which they have rendered signal ser- 
vice. But we have not , I think, utilised to 
the same extent as the British, the enormous 
resources which our army afforded us in 
this respect. 

The British were careful to avoid two 
faults : they did not, as we have done since 
the close of 1886, require officers entering 


civil employ to send in their papers and 
retire permanently from the army: a course 
which, though possessing some advantages 
of minor importance, necessarily entails the 
disadvantage of reducing so valuable a coad- 
jutor both in quantity and quality. 

In this respect, the example of what the 
British did in Burma is instructive. Mr. Ar- 
chibald Colquhoun, one of those whom we 
mentioned above, had served not without 
distinction in the Engineers; he had, more- 
over, spent several years in exploring the 
frontier territory between China and Burma, 
and had succeeded in gaining considerable 
adhesion amongst the British public at large 
to his project of penetrating to Yunnan by 
way of Upper Burma. On all these accounts 
he commended himself doubly to the choice 
of the Government of India. He was, in fact, 
chosen, and posted to the district of Bhamo, 
the centre of the region which he had ex- 
plored. But he was only accorded the rank 
of a Deputy Commissioner of the fourth 

This affords yet another proof of the good 
sense and prudence of the Government of 
India. It has succeeded admirably in recruit- 
ing well-prepared officials for the Cove- 
nanted Civil Service, and outsiders for the 
Uncovenanted Service, in meting out to 
each class a just and appropriate modicum 


of advantage, and in deriving from both of 
them a maximum of utility. We have yet 
to consider the value of the officials thus 



British Opinion : Sir Richard Temple, Lord Lytton, 
Lord Dufferin, Mr. Herbert — Foreign Opinion : 
M, de Hiibner — Adverse Opinions: British Of- 
ficials in Egypt — Average^ and probably correct y 
opinion ; the officials in the days of the Com- 
pany^ and those of the Government of India — 
The men of initiative, and the men of disci- 
pline — Officials of the future. 

It is no easy matter to form an opinion 
on this point. I must, however, state my 
personal opinion, and shall do so with all 
possible reserve. As I have not travelled 
in the country and have consequently been 
unable to even attempt an inquiry on my 
own account — an undertaking by no means 
free from danger — the sources of my inform- 
ation must of necessity be external, of 
which I shall mention two. The work that the 
officials of India have been able to accomplish ; 


and secondly, the opinion which clear-sighted 
and credible witnesses have recorded con- 
cerning these officials. 

We must not think of giving even the 
merest abstract of what the British have ac- 
complished in India, besides such an abstract 
would be altogether superfluous ; for the 
value of their work is no longer open to 
dispute. Recent research has even effectu- 
ally destroyed some of the abominable tales 
current regarding the measures adopted in 
the earlier days of British rule, and has vin- 
dicated the reputation of their earlier Vice- 
roys, even that of Warren Hastings. As to 
the plans, and the administration of the Gov- 
ernment of India during the latter half of 
the present century, it is generally acknow- 
ledged, despite criticisms of details of minor 
importance, that they reflect credit on civi- 
lisation. **The Government of India," wrote 
John Stuart Mill, a man whose very char- 
acter refutes any suspicion of partiality, 
**is one of those Governments whose inten- 
tions have been most blameless,^ and," 
he adds, *^ whose administration has been most 

' John Stuart Mill was on this point— a fact that must 
have caused him some grief — in direct opposition to 
his father, the author of The History of India^ whom 
the recent historical criticism convicts of error, and of 
bad faith in his diatribes against the policy of the Company. 


The attitude of the native peoples, in this 
respect, is significant. "Peoples", because, 
contrary to the prevailing supposition in 
Europe, there is not, and perhaps never will 
be, such a thing as an Indian nation. India 
contains a collection of peoples, totally dis- 
similar in race and religion, who mutually 
hate each other; and each of these peoples 
is subdivided into castes of high and low 
degree, which mutually persecute one another. 
Prior to the arrival of the British, perpetual 
war was waged between these various races 
and religions ; perpetual oppression was exer- 
cised by one caste over another, and by 
one individual over another. The natives 
are well aware of this, and of all that they 
owe to Great Britain, what they prize most 
highly is British Justice and peace with British 

"I have been able,'' says Count de Hiibner 
in his Voyage a travers V Empire britanniqiie^ 
"to compare the populations which are 
under the direct rule of the Crown with 
the subjects of the feudatory princes. For 
instance, crossing over the frontier, one comes 
into Hyderabad. The sky, the soil, the race 
are the same ; but the difference between 
the two states is striking, and all in favour 
of the Presidency (whether of Madras or 
Bombay) which has just been left behind. . . 
Were proof needed of how deeply the moral 


prestige of the British has taken root among 
the population, I might quote the fact that, 
throughout the entire Peninsula, the native, 
if involved in a civil especially in a crim- 
inal suit, is always anxious that it should 
be tried before a British magistrate." ^ 

The above is an instructive commentary 
on the work accomplished by the British in 
India : it argues greatly in favour of the work- 
ers. As to the workers themselves, I can- 
not do better than reproduce the testimony 
of those who have seen them at work. I 
will begin by quoting British testimony. 

One might be tempted to dispute this 
testimony. But all idea of doing so vanishes 
when the source from whence it comes is 
considered, and how unanimous the verdict is. 

^' Competent observers," writes Sir Richard 
Temple, '^ who has held very important posts 
in India, " have come to the conclusion that 

' By this we do not mean that the British have no 
enemies amongst the Indians: they have some implac- 
able ones But these enemies, educated for the most 
part at Anglo-Indian schools, and inspired by ambition 
as much as by patriotism, are perhaps less desirous of 
delivering their nation than of supplanting the British. 
They possess, moreover, but a limited amount of influ- 
ence, though it is increasing, and do not always succeed 
in impressing others with the high opinion which they 
entertain of themselves. (See, on this point. Young 
India^ by W. S. Caine, 1891). 

^ British India^ the Type of Modern Colonisation^ French 
translation, i vol., 18°, 1889. 


Indian Civil Servants represent in the East 
an admirable type of the better class of 
Briton. A high prelate of the church, who 
knows the West as well as he does the East, 
assured me that he. had never met with a 
superior class of men." 

Sir John Strachey, who in his work has 
given evidence of independence of character 
rarely to be met with, says that the Indians, 
though not enamoured of British rule and 
administration, unhesitatingly prefer them to 
those of their compatriots. 

One of the later Governors-General, the 
much lamented Lord Lytton, wrote to me : 
**As Viceroy, I have for five years been in 
constant communication with all Branches 
of the Indian Civil Service, and I have formed 
the highest opinion of their capabilities, and 
their integrity. Doubtless in a Service of 
such magnitude as that of British India, there 
must inevitably be different degrees of intel- 
ligence and capacity, and it is indubitable 
that the Indian Civil Service, like public 
Services of all other countries, numbers among 
its members some who are incompetent. But 
my impression is that, compared with other 
Services, it contains exceptionally few such 
men, and that its average standard is excep- 
tionally high." 

Another Viceroy still more qualified, per- 
haps, to express his opinion on this subject, 


inasmuch as he was more recently at the 
head of affairs, and that if any criticisms — 
as I shall presently explain — are possible 
with regard to the Civil Service, they must 
be made with reference to late years — this 
other Viceroy, (why should I not name him ?) 
Lord Dufiferin, wrote to me as follows : ^' You 
ask me to tell you the plain truth regarding 
the skill, experience and, in more general 
terms, the moral worth of the officials of our 
Indian Civil Service. I reply without any hesi- 
tation : There is no Service like it i7i the world. 
For ingenuity, courage, right judgment, dis- 
interested devotion to duty, endurance, open- 
heartedness and, at the same time, loyalty 
to one another and to their chiefs they are, 
to my knowledge, superior to any other class 
of Englishmen. They are absolutely free 
from any taint of venality or corruption. 
Naturally, they are not all of equal worth, 
and so I am merely speaking of them as 
a whole. And moreover, if the Indian Civil 
Service were not what I have described it, 
how could the government of this country 
go on so smoothly.^ We have 250 millions 
of subjects in India, and less than 1,000 
British Civilians for the conduct of the en- 
tire administration." 

Lastly, a high official in the India Office 
writes to me: **You know what precautions 
are taken in recruiting the Covenanted Civil 


Service^ ... As far as I am concerned, I 
have had twenty years' experience in this 
Office, to which all complaints or accusations 
against Civilians are sent in, and I am fully 
convinced of the rectitude, the capacity and 
the success — all of a high standard — of this 
Service. Doubtless there have been times 
when certain of its members have been guilty 
of incorrect conduct. But the exceptions 
prove the rule. I can answer for it that 
strict and impartial justice has invariably 
been meted out to incapable or dishonest 
Civilians, however high their official position, 
however great their social and political in- 
fluence may have been. 

*^I attribute the success which I claim for 
the Indian Civil Service in modern times, 
chiefly to the fact that it is the best paid 
Service in the world. A young man of 22^ 
on entering the Indian Service, receives a 
commencing salary of ;^48o, and this salary 
may, at the close of his career, have pro- 
gressively risen to ;^ 10,000. This liberal 
remuneration tends to diminish the tempta- 
tion to which a man placed in a position 
of responsibility and power may, by reason 
of his being human, find himself exposed. 

' See the * Report of the Indian Public Service Com- 
mission,' 5296, 1890; cf. 'Correspondence between the 
Government of India and the Secretary of State for 
India', 1885, C. 4580. 


Moreover, I may add that the Government 
watches with the greatest care over the 
behaviour- of its servants, even in the most 
insignificant matters, as it is well aware that 
the continuance of British power in India 
depends more on the wisdom and justice 
of its servants than on anything else." 

I might quote the opinions of many other 
Englishmen; but refrain from doing so, as 
they differ in no wise from those which I 
have already given. 

But in spite of all I have said above, as 
the British, in extolling the grandeur of 
their Indian Government and the excellence 
of its officials, are not disinterested parties, 
their enthusiasm may appear suspicious to us : 
I am about to adduce the testimony of a 
foreigner, M. de Hiibner. I quote him in 
preference to any other, for this reason. As 
a man of remarkable intelligence, he has 
occupied high positions in his native country ; 
as a native of Austria, a country which pos- 
sesses no colonies, he has been able to 
observe British India without envy or preju- 
dice ; lastly, he has on more than one occa- 
sion evinced sympathy for our country, and 
his remarks on our little Indian colony, for 
instance, are far from being displeasing to 
us. Now, M. de Hiibner, in the course of 
the narrative of his travels repeatedly recurs 
to the sentiments of esteem, and even of 



admiration which he entertains for the mem- 
bers of the Indian Civil Service, their abne- 
gation, their talent, their integrity and their 
thirst for information, etc. 

^* These men," he says ^'who have some- 
thing akin to the hero, the missionary 
(of civilisation), the diplomatist, the judge, 
the soldier, and the administrator combined, 
live beneath a flaming sky. I have seen few 
whose countenances do not bear traces of 
fever or dysentery, and yet for all that they 
are contented." 

^^I have,'' he says in another passage, 
" met everywhere men devoted to their Ser- 
vice, working from morning till night and, 
in spite of their manifold occupations, finding 
time for reading and serious study. India 
is governed bureaucratically ; but her bureau- 
cracy differs from ours in more than one 
respect. In Europe the days of the Govern- 
ment employe succeed one another with uni- 
form similarity. Only great revolutions or 
European wars are capable of disturbing this 
placid monotony. Here it is not so. The 
variety of his duties enlarges and forms the 
mind of the Anglo-Indian official ; the dangers 
to which he may be exposed from one moment 
to another strengthen his character. He 
t learns to take a mental survey of vast regions, 
 and to work in his office, while the ground 
trembles beneath his feet. I believe I do 


not exaggerate when I say that there is no 
bureaucracy in existence which is better in- 
formed, more business-like or more imbued 
with the qualities which make the states- 
man and — no one will venture to deny it — 
more honest and straightforward than that 
which administers the Peninsula on the 

Lastly, in a final passage he says : ^^ I have 
in the preceding narrative, given a faithful 
and conscientious epitome of the information 
which I was able to obtain from the most 
direct and most credible sources respecting 
the various places. I have not concealed 
any point in the colossal British adminis- 
tration which struck me as weak. I have 
not passed over unnoticed any one of the 
complaints made, rightly or wrongly, by re- 
spectable persons acquainted with the country. 
But even if viewed from the standpoint of 
the pessimist, which is not mine, and if a 
large share be granted to the inherent in- 
firmities and defects of human nature, it is 
still undeniable that British India at the pre- 
sent day presents a spectacle which is unique 
and unrivalled in the history of the world . . . 
And to what are all these miracles due? 
They are due to the wisdom and intrepidity 
of a few leading statesmen, to the bravery 
and discipline of an army composed of a 
small number of British, and a large num- 


ber of natives, ^ and led by heroes ; lastly, 
and I may say almost chiefly, to the intelli- 
gence, the devotion, the courage, the perse- 
verance, the skill, combined with an integ- 
rity proof against everything, of the handful 
of officials and magistrates who govern and 
administer the whole of India.'' 

This testimony is decisive. 

And yet even this evidence, though so 
extensive, formal and corroborative, is con- 
fronted by adverse testimony. Now it is a 
traveller who has met in India, instead of 
men of eminence , independence or initiative, 
veritable European bureaucrats, mere under- 
lings and busy-bodies. Now it is a resident 
of Cairo who declares that the British offi- 
cials drafted to Egypt are below the average in 
intelligence and integrity and serve by con- 
trast to show off the ability and uprightness 
of the officials of other nationalities. 

I attach but little importance to complaints 
emanating from Egypt, and for the following 
reason. The officials drafted from India to 
that country for the most part do not be- 
long to the Covenanted Civil Service, the 
only body of officials which concerns us here, 
seeing that it is the only body whose mem- 
bers can attain to the higher posts enabling 

* The British army numbers 75,000, .the native army 
about 160,000 men. 


their occupants to exercise an important 
influence on the government of a country. 
Even assuming that they were taken from 
that class — as was the case with several of 
them — this would not alter my opinion. 

Indeed, the method whereby the officials 
of the Covenanted Civil Service are recruit- 
ed, the tests which they have to undergo , 
and the knowledge required of them, fit them 
for service in India, but for no other country. 
Removed from the scene where their know- 
ledge was to have been brought into play , 
they may fail to do themselves justice, with- 
out thereby affording a proof that they 
would have been professionally incapable in 
the country in which they were to serve. 

But having conceded so much, I must add 
that the British Indian officials in Egypt do 
not all answer to the description of the 
resident of Cairo alluded to. Sir Ray- 
mond West, for instance, and Mr. Justice 
Scott, and Sir Auckland Colvin, the present 
Lieutenant-Governor of the North-west Prov- 
inces, have been highly successful and will 
bear comparison with officials of any other 
country in the world. And to these names 
might be added those of Sir Evelyn Baring, 
a former Indian Financial Secretary, and of 
Sir Colin Scott Moncreiff, a Civil Engineer 
who successfully conducted the Irrigation 
Works, and whose services the Russian Gov- 


eminent is said to have endeavoured to 
secure. It appears to me that the above 
considerations and proofs invalidate the in- 

And for the rest, my answer is this. The 
two adverse opinions I have quoted do not 
apply to men of the same category or epoch. 
As was apparent from the letters which I 
reproduced above, a Service of such mag- 
nitude as that of India numbers among its 
members men of unequal value. It matters 
not that in the competitive examination they 
were almost on a par; nor that they com- 
menced their career by occupying identical 
posts; they derive different degrees of profit 
from life and its daily lessons, and this leads 
ere long to disparity and separation. The 
average intellects do not rise above the level 
of executive officers and, but for powerful 
patronage, stop short at the rank of Chief 
of a district, Deputy Commissioner : which 
in their case represents the marshal's bdton. 
Others who are more brilliant or more thor- 
ough, attain rapidly enough to the positions 
of Commissioner of a province. Chief Com- 
missioner, Secretary to Government, Governor, 
etc. Commensurately with their advancement, 
the exercise of larger powers, and the con- 
tact with men of higher intellect tend to 
develop their natural faculties and to raise 
them from distinction to eminence. Now, it 


is more especially these eminent men, on 
whom devolve duties of the highest impor- 
tance, who associate with, and entertain 
Viceroys and their ministers, or distinguished 
travellers, such as M. de Hiibner; and we 
can well understand how, under the seduc- 
tive influence of their talents, the flattering 
estimate formed of the best representa- 
tives, of the Service may have been com- 
placently extended to the whole body of 

And yet other more serious and thorough 
explanations may, I think, be found for the 
contradictory evidence to which I have allud- 
ed. These explanations are founded on two 
authenticated- facts which are both connect- 
ed with the recruitment of the officials. 
The system of recruitment has for some 
years past been essentially modified; one of 
the causes of these modifications is merely 
temporary; it lay within the power of the 
legislator to abrogate it, and this has, at the 
time of writing, been actually done; the 
other cause appears to be of a permanent 

The first was as follows : The commission, 
over which Lord Macaulay presided^ had 
sought to attract to the Indian Civil Service 
the intellectual pick of the nation, that is 
to say, according to its opinion, the young 
men who had gone through the University 


career. To attain this object, the commis- 
sion drew up the examination-papers and 
fixed the age limit so as to correspond both 
with the University curriculum, and with the 
age at which the students leave college af- 
ter taking their degrees. I need not again 
refer to the examination-papers. The maxi- 
mum limit of age was, as I have already 
stated, fixed at 23, the minimum limit at 18 
years, with the proviso . that 1 8 years was 
an extreme limit, and that a candidate of 
that age might only be admitted under quite 
exceptional circumstances. 

These regulations were most successful. 
No sooner were they put into force than it 
was ascertained that large numbers of Uni- 
versity men entered their names for the 
open competition for the Indian Civil Ser- 
vice. In 1858, out of 40 candidates 90 % 
were University students. Unfortunately, 
for reasons which space forbids mentioning, 
the maximum limit of age was gradually 
lowered from 23 to 21, and from that to 
20 years, and finally, by an Order in Coun- 
cil dated the 24th February, 1877, of Lord 
Salisbury, who was then Secretary of State 
for India, to 19 years; the minimum limit 
being fixed at 17. This decrease in the 
limit of age led to disastrous results. Stu- 
dents at the University, being bound, if they 
wished to graduate there, to pursue thire 


Studies up to the age of 22^ found them- 
selves compelled to choose between India and 
the University, or in other words, as I have 
previously explained, between an Indian ca- 
reer, and any one of the professions open 
to civilians in the United Kingdom. Those 
who chose an Indian career went so far 
as to discontinue their studies at the Uni- 
versity, in order to prepare for the open 
competition. They placed themselves under 
some professional expert, who "crammed" 
them to their hearts' content. As a conse- 
quence, the proportion of candidates hailing 
from the Universities sank to a ridiculously 
low level, and the remainder no longer of- 
fered the security of a sound general edu- 
cation, the need of which Lord Macaulay 
had so strongly emphasized. 

This twofold result, which threatened to 
reduce to a lamentably low level the intel- 
lectual qualifications of Indian Civilians, has 
for several years past been universally con- 
demned, both in India and in England. Fi- 
nally, after a lengthy inquiry, the Govern- 
ment yielded to the protests which even the 
Viceroy of India supported, and, as we have 
seen, the limits of age for the open com- 
petition of 1892 are respectively fixed at 
21 and 23 years. This being so, we may 
hope that the young civilians in spe com- 
peting in future years will recall their elder 


confreres of 1858 and following years. ^ 
Such is the first of the causes to which I 
referred. The British Government has sup- 
pressed it. The second, on the contrary, 
is still existent, and is beyond the reach of 
Government control. 

The Civil Service and, generally speaking, 
the administration and government of India 
are no longer recruited as they were thirty 
years ago. They comprise two classes of 
officials who, though side by side, are not 
assimilated, the one still belonging by tradi- 
tion to the days of the Company's regime, 
and the other — already the great majority — to 
the period of Crown administration. Between 
the two types there is a gulf fixed. And 
this is not owing to a difference in the 
method of recruitment, to the; substitution 
of recruitment by open competition for that 
of recruitment by free selection: competitive 
examinations were already in vogue in the 

' This appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes in 
December, 1891, and January, 1892. In February and 
March, 1892, two English Reviews published articles 
on the same question. Ono, vjdiSth^ Educational Review y 
which, by the licensed pen of Sir William Markby, Pro- 
fessor of Indian Law at Oxford, urged the students 
of Cambridge and Oxford to adopt an Indian career. 
The other was the Oxford University Magazine^ which, 
in an anonymous article, but evidently penned by an 
expert in such matters, devoted itself specially to the 
approaching Open Competition for the Indian Civil 
vService to be held in August, and set forth the induce- 
ments held out to students to take part in it. 


days of the Company, and more than one 
civilian of the present day who can recall 
the better models of former times, is a 
"Competition Wallah.'' The fault, if any, lies 
in the circumstances and manners of the time. 

In the days of the Company's regime^ 
rapid communication did not exist either be- 
tween India and the mother country, or 
especially, — and the Company suffered for it 
— between the principal centres in the inter- 
ior of India. On the other hand, there was 
no such plethora of regulations providing for 
so large a number of possibilities, nor that 
long series of well-established precedents 
which are decisive, so to speak, in the mat- 
ter of future eventualities. The result was, 
that the Government of India and its agents 
found themselves thrown, much more than 
at present, upon their own resources, and 
thus led to decide weighty matters on their 
own unaided responsibility. The duties of 
their office were therefore important, and 
well calculated to entice men of energy and 
initiative whom, on the other hand, the liberal 
salaries, whether fixed or contingent, might 
induce to overlook exile, for such was prac- 
tically the lot of Indian officials at that time. 

Now, of these men endowed with energy 
and initiative Great Britain has throughout 
all ages possessed an abundant supply : they 
are the younger scions of noble or wealthy 


families who throughout the course of English 
history have occupied so prominent a posi- 
tion. ^ Compelled by custom to carve out 
for themselves a career which their almost 
justifiable jealousy . pictured as transplendent, 
they willingly entered the service of a Com- 
pany which had posts of such interest cou- 
pled with salaries on so munificent a scale 
at its disposal. But these cadets whose sires 
had for generations been used, both by habit 
and inclination, to command, and to the 
responsibilities connected with it, brought into 
their business broadness of view, decision of 
character, moral energy, and a fund of phy- 
sical endurance, in short the very qualities 
which were indispensable during the period 
of conquest in India. Doubtless there were 
among them a few of moderate capacity, and 
even some * incapables ', who managed to slip 
in by influence, which was then all-powerful. 
But a few months of trial resulted in their 
being either got rid of altogether, or rele- 
gated to minor posts. The remainder climbed 
rung by rung to the summit of the hierar- 
chical ladder: generous, lavish, at times 
somewhat addicted to plunder, irregular 
enough in their conduct, but full of "go'', 
and expending their store of courage and 
invention for the Company's benefit. 

This regime full of grandeur, but equally 

' Cf. specially Burke's "Colonial Gentry". 


full of abuse, under which, in defiance of 
even the officials, the interests of private 
individuals frequently took precedence of 
those of the nation; under which, still more 
frequently, the future was sacrificed to the 
present, had already undergone a gradual 
modification in the first half of the present 
century, and came to an end in 1858, on 
the final suppression of the Mutiny. Since 
the transfer of the government to the Crown, 
India has assumed more and more the char- 
acter of an immense bureaucracy. The means 
of communication have developed to a pro- 
digious extent ; order and discipline have 
been introduced into everything — as a con- 
sequence, officialdom and administration have 
undergone a transformation, and with them 
the qualities required in the personnel. 

Doubtless, now as formerly, the qualities 
of energy and initiative are held in high 
esteem; but education, precision, and per- 
haps even docility are considered more im- 
portant, and are developed to the detriment 
of character. The fact is that character, 
will and decision find merely exceptional 
employment in pacified and organised India, 
and that only in certain less civilised parts, 
or during certain periods of less tranquillity, 
and are Hable, under normal conditions, to 
be more embarrassing than useful to the 
Chiefs whose task it is to keep the machinery 


in motion. Thus the modern civiHan of 
contemporary India appears to be gravitating 
more and more towards the whims which 
characterise all bureaucracies. This revolu- 
tion has not as yet permeated the entire 
hierarchy : the intermediate and superior posts 
are still occupied by brilliant representatives 
of the old school, though modified in accord- 
ance with the exigencies of present circum- 
stances; but in course of time they too will 
disappear^ probably without being replaced, 
and with few exceptions which the Govern- 
ment will endeavour to multiply, the higher 
posts will be filled, not by the sons of the 
nobility, the gentry, or the merchant princes, 
but by those of the clergyman, the school- 
master, and the shopkeeper. 
J This fatal evolution is dreaded as a pos- 
sible blow to British prestige by men who 
have grown up in the study and — in spite 
of all — in the admiration of those who may 
be called the paladins of India. Great Bri- 
tain, however, can face it without feeling 
over-anxious. Times are much changed : the 
heroic period is over; for the future there 
is, to all appearance, less need for conquer- 
ing countries or suppressing revolt than for 
governing by peaceful measures, by justice 
and foresight a population which for a long 
time to come will continue in leading-strings ; 
and for the latter task the shopkeeper's or 


the clergyman's son, who would have been 
incapable of the former task, — the learned, 
methodical^ diligent, occasionally, economical, 
mean and even vulgar official — has the decided 
advantage over the earlier type with his 
ardour, his improvising genius, his impru- . 
dence, and his lavishness. ^ ^ 

It would, however, be an unwise move on 
the part of the Government to deprive itself 
once and for all of the latter precious element. 
As long as there is a question of extending 
its rule, and of forming Administrations, 
there will be a need — and rightly so — of 
men of resource and imagination; and it 
seems that such men were somewhat scarce 
in the latest Burmese affair. Besides which, 
in a general way it is scarcely open to doubt 
that the officials of Burma have proved 
inferior to those of the rest of India. That 
is, however, no evidence against the system 
per se. Indeed, it is not long since, that 
the Covenanted Civil Service supplied Burma 
with officials recruited directly from its ranks ; 
and, on the other hand, the vices of official- 
dom to which we shall presently refer, are 
due to passing and readily determinable 
causes; the British are already engaged in 
remedying them. 

^ See "Colonies and Dependencies," by J. T. Cotton, 
(pp. 28-35, and 75-80). Macmillan, 1883 ; in which 
other, and very singular considerations are discussed. 



Inferiority of the officials of Burma compared with 
those of India — Various causes of this inferior- 
ity : the climate^ and the situation of Burma — 
Marked dislike on the part of the officials to 
service in Burma — Excessive economy of the 
Government of India in regard to personnel; 
its failure to correctly estimate the personnel 
that would be required for the administration of 
Upper Burma — Expedients resorted to : favour 
and injustice shown in recruiting the p ersonnel. 

We must not exaggerate : the Civil Ser- 
vice of Burma, such as it was originally, 
and such as it is at the present day^ is, 
generally speaking, satisfactory, in some dis- 
tricts, excellent. Many of the Burmese 
Officials would reflect credit on any Admin- 
istration; but there are a few, not only in 
the Civil Service, but also in the Medical, 
and other branches of the Service, who 
stand out as deficient in experience, in de- 
votion to duty, and even, I regret to say. 


in conscientiousness. The proportion, though 
small, of men of this stamp is higher than 
in any other province of India, and this re- 
mark is itself sufficient proof that the evil 
is almost entirely due to local causes. 

Burma has indeed to face two disadvan- 
tages : one, peculiar to itself alone, is its 
situation and climate; the other, shared in 
common with the rest of India, though in 
its case the result is possibly more potent 
and more prejudicial, is the Government's 
present craze for economy. 

And first, with regard to the climate. 
The climate of Burma is poor, and in the 
opinion (expressed in June, 1891) of one of 
our Consuls, M. Pilinski of Rangoon, harder 
to bear than that of any other part of India. 
The heat is debilitating, the extreme humid- 
ity injurious to health, and certain com- 
plaints, such as cholera and dysentery, are 
either endemic or recur periodically. During 
the campaign, the proportion of deaths through 
war and sickness was considerable. The 
Government transports could not provide 
sufficient accommodation for all the homeward- 
bound invalids. In 1888-89 ^he mortality 
still remained at 5.32 per cent. 

On the other hand. Upper Burma is health- 
ier than Lower Burma; the temperature 
being somewhat cooler, it is more invigora- 
ting ; and some of the high officials make 



arrangements for alternate residence at 
Rangoon and Mandalay, according to the 
season of the year. Certain districts, how- 
ever, considerably further north, are not on 
that account the more habitable. Bhamo is 
only endurable seven months out of the 
twelve. During the expeditions of 1 890-1 891 
some particularly unhealthy spots were met 
with : especially Fort White on the Chin 
frontier, the district of Yeu in the Shan States, 
that of the jade mines, etc. At Fort White 
at one time 54 per cent of the garrison 
were in hospital; Indians, Europeans, and 
Burmese were all equally affected. In the 
tow^n of Minthu, the garrison, comprising the 
Staff and three companies of the 20th Madras 
Infantry, could not muster more than 35 
men on parade. A later report states that 
44 per cent of the effective force were in 

An attempt was made to establish, on 
the hills. Sanitaria similar to those in India, 
at an altitude varying between 6,000 to 
7,000 feet. It was thought that suitable 
spots had been found, first at Enjouk, and 
at Bernardmyo, near Mogok; and subse- 
quently on an elevated plateau facing the 
station of Bingway: ere long, however, it 
w^as found that these so-called Sanitaria were 
no less unhealthy than the rest of the country. 
The unhealthiness of Burma is not, hovirever, 


irremediable. The remedy lies in hygienic 
dwellings^ in water-works and drainage, a 
rational system of sanitation, hospitals and 
an adequate supply of medicines : it is, in 
fact, a mere question of time and money. 

But climate is not the only drawback of 
Burma. Other reasons help to render the 
province unpopular with the Service. 

Service in Burma has never been in high 
repute. The practical means of good admin- 
istration are wanting. The districts (admin- 
istrative units) are too extensive ; in a country 
of the size of France they number only 
forty-one. Their superficial area averages 
4,200 square miles; that of the Amherst 
district is 15,000; and that of the Upper 
Chindwin district, 19,000 square miles. . 

Areas so vast should be traversed by numer- 
ous lines of communication, and the means 
of transit should be rapid. But roads are few 
and far between, even in Lower Burma, 
and the railways necessarily inadequate. 

This state of affairs entails unpleasant 
consequences. The sparsely scattered popu- 
lation is not in touch with the authorities. 
The majority of the chief officials, heads of 
poHce, magistrates, etc., reside in the chief 
towns. The rate-payer lives far from the 
collector, and those amenable to justice, 
far from the magistrate. Should a native 
wish to pay a tax or to defend a law-suit 


he must, as is often the case in Algeria, 
undertake a journey of lOO miles, necessi- 
tating a three days' absence from his home. 
The more zealous officials are disconsolate 
at their impotence; the others are far too 
easily consoled. And further: it may easily 
be conceived that service in Burma, the 
latest addition to the large Indian family, 
far from the Central Administration and the 
favours it can dispense; peopled, moreover, 
by fewer Europeans and offering fewer ad- 
vantages, is unpopular with the members 
of the Civil Service. Now, we know that 
the candidates selected by open competi- 
tion are entitled, according to their merit, 
to elect to serve in a particular Presidency ; 
Burma is not a favourite among them, and 
has, consequently, to be content with those 
lower down on the list. And yet even the 
lowest in a list of picked men must be men 
of marked ability. This fact does not, there- 
fore, sufficiently account for the proved 
insufficiency of the Anglo-Burmese officials. 
The following remarks will complete the 

Members of the Civil Service are not re- 
cruited for the whole of India. Prior to 
every open competition, the Civil Service 
Commissioners, previously ascertaining the 
number of vacancies, give out that so many 
candidates will be appointed to Bengal; so 


many to the North-West Provinces, Punjab 
and Oude ; to Bombay, Madras, and Burma. 
After the open competition the selected can- 
didates name the Presidency (or Province) 
of India in v^hich they wish to serve, and in 
which, as a rule, their promotion will take 
place, and on entering upon the period of 
probation they shape their studies accordingly. 
They acquire a knowledge of the language, 
the law, and the customs of their future lo- 
cality ; but while this special course of study 
renders them more qualified for service in 
that particular province, it renders them less 
qualified for service in any other. As a ne- 
cessary consequence, a civilian who may be 
an excellent official in Madras, would be not 
unlikely^ at any rate ^at first, to prove but an 
indifferent one, especially among the lower 
grades, if transferred to Bombay. 

Now ; officials are at present recruited sep- 
arately for Burma. The officials of other 
Indian provinces cannot readily, at any rate 
without preparation, be utilised, and Burma has 
therefore to rely upon her own particular 
officials. Their number has, however, been 
estimated somewhat too exactly. Should any 
unforeseen event occur, the equilibrium is 
disturbed, and the administrative machinery 
is with difficulty kept going. 

This is what happened in 1885. Burma 
possessed a Civil staff of sixty-two officials 


who sufficed for all requirements, and who, 
notwithstanding the likes and dislikes of the 
members of the Civil Service to which I have 
already alluded, to put it briefly, performed 
their task creditably. Suddenly and without 
any preparation, ^ Upper Burma is invaded 
and annexed, and requires a considerable 
personnel. A certain number of officials are 
taken from Lower Burma, with the result 
that the latter province, in its turn, becomes 
disturbed and requires the presence of all 
its officials. It then becomes necessary to 
turn to another quarter, and to appeal either 
to non-members of the Civil Service who are 
well-acquainted with the country, or — the 
number of such persons being limited — to 
Civilians of other Indian provinces. Now 
these Civilians, fitted by their special know- 
ledge for special duties, were ill-adapted for 
service in Burma ; hence this source of supply 
was checked by difficulties. 

For once, then, the Government of India 
found its studied combinations at fault. And 

• The conquest of Burma was by no means an unex- 
pected event ; but, on the one hand, no one could have 
foretold whether it would take place in six months or 
in six years ; and, on the other hand, no one knew what 
regime would be established : whether a native or a 
British Government. Whilst matters remained in this 
state of uncertainty the Government did not venture to 
increase the quota of officials selected for service in 


it must be stated that the zeal and energy 
of the personnel failed to remedy the inelas- 
ticity of the institutions. In contrast to 
Tongking, where our colonial, and even our 
home officials, our officers of all arms, our 
army and naval doctors all competed eagerly 
for the vacant posts, great difficulty was ex- 
perienced in obtaining the requisite supply 
of officials for Burma. The medical service 
more especially has never had even the in- 
dispensable complement. Burma, as we know, 
was not popular with Indian Civilians, and 
their devotion did not impel them to go the 
length of exchanging a life of comfort for 
one of fatigue and danger. When they were 
officially appealed to for volunteers for ser- 
vice in the new province, only men of very 
inferior ability, though of inordinate preten- 
sions, came forward. Of these half a dozen 
only were selected. 

Considerable advantages should have been 
offered, so as to attract the best qualified 
among the Indian Civilians to this discredited 
province. Now, it just happens that for well- 
known financial reasons the Government of 
India is economical to a degree, and is 
eager to obtain a maximum of work from 
a minimum of personnel. ^ 

' Lower Burma has yielded some surpluses of revenue 
which I believe were considerable, though I cannot 
positively assert it, as the official documents are so 


Lord Dufferin, in February, 1886, was of 
the opinion that he could govern Upper 
Burma with a Staff (exclusive of police) of 
twenty-four persons; whereas over sixt)' 
were required, and even that number was 
inadequate. This miscalculation entailed cer- 
tain infringements of Indian administrative 
customs, and these infringements were so 
many errors. The best officials who — be . 
it remarked — were almost always the senior 
ones, being everywhere in request and every- 
where necessary, were frequently removed: 
Wherever increased difficulties were antici- 
pated, thither the ablest officials were trans- 
ferred. After some months of this sharp 
practice, the supply was exhausted; several 
had to retire on account of ill-health, and 

confused and contradictory. With these surpluses, the 
advantages of which I have spoken, might have been 
offered to the officials, and the complement oi personnel 
have been augmented. This was not done : the surpluses 
of Lower Burma went into the Indian Treasury, and 
served to partly counter-balance the deficit in the bud- 
get of Upper Burma. 

The action of the Government of India is, strictly 
speaking, excusable. The depreciation in the value of 
the rupee represents an enormous loss. The interest ^ 

on the National Debt, which is payable abroad in gold, 
has increased 50 per cent since 1870. 

But the same complaints are made in the British 
Colonial Service: from one end of the Empire to the 
other, in all the Crown colonies, the officials are over- 
worked. See, on this subject, some very significant 
articles which appeared in 1889, especially in the Lon- 
don and China Telegraph : " Wanted more Officials,*' 


the task of administration was undertaken 
by less capable hands. 

The administration of justice, more espe- 
cially, was too often entrusted to young 
men, who were, notwithstanding, unyield- 
ing in their decisions. Lastly, as one fault 
leads to others, the neglect of the regula- 
tions, the contemptuous treatment of the 
senior officials and of their rights naturally 
led to arbitrariness and favour. Certain 
important duties were confided to officials 
who were unqualified either by age or ability, 
to fulfil them. 

It should not, however, be forgotten that 
these were only exceptional cases, blemishes 
which were obliterated by the satisfactory 
ensemble. The body of officials in Burma, 
though inferior to their colleagues in India, 
yet remained sufficiently strong to develop 
the resources of the new possession. 






Agriculture — Forests — Mines : meta/s, petroleum^ coal^ 

At the outset, the resources of Burma 
had been very much exaggerated. A rash 
estimate had been made of the country as 
a whole, based on the value of exceptional 
districts, such as the Delta of the Irrawaddy, 
etc. But Mrhen the plateaux and the moun- 
tains were subsequently explored; when, in 
the period following the annexation, officers 
and engineers proceeded to draw up an 
inventory of the resources of Upper Burma, 
it became apparent that these optimistic 
views would have to be somewhat moderat- 
ed. But, nevertheless, Burma on nearer 
acquaintance, even apart from the fact of 
her position between India and China which 


rendered her doubly valuable in British esti- 
mation, proved to be a very desirable acqui- 

Burma's natural wealth may be divided 
into three groups: agricultural produce, for- 
ests, and mines. 

A brief description which, we fear, must 
prove rather dry, will suffice. 

The agriculture of Upper Burma can 
hardly be compared to that of Lower Burma. 
The products of the two provinces differ 
considerably, and render them dependent 
on each other for their supplies. The chief 
product of Lower Burma is rice : from it 
her four millions of inhabitants obtain their 
food, and any surplus is sold to Upper Burma, 
and to foreign countries : a million tons 
to the former and some hundred thousand 
to the latter. ^ Sometimes it happens that 
foreign countries are served before the 
sister province : if the harvest has been a 
poor one, or if there has been a great de- 
mand for export, the sister province suffers 
from a scarcity of food, if not from actual 
famine. This has occurred ere now, and 
will occur again. But the wealthy rice mer- 
chants of Rangoon do not trouble themselves 
about so small a matter. 

• In 1 889 the export of rice to foreign countries, 
including British India, reached 918,369 tons, represent- 
ing a value of Rs. 65,550,000. 


In addition to rice, export statistics men- 
tion certain other articles which are less 
plentiful, but more valuable. These, though 
shipped at Rangoon and Maulmain^ come for 
the most part from Upper Burma. 

Upper Burma indeed, unlike Lower Burma, 
produces more especially superfluities. Hers 
are special products, which will render her 
wealthy, when time has brought about a 
suitable distribution of colonists and capital 
over the two provinces, and a rational selec- 
tion of the objects of culture. In that the 
future of the province lies. There will be 
a repetition in Burma of the experiments 
which proved so successful in India and 
Ceylon. Lower Burma will continue to cul- 
tivate rice, as at present; and Upper Burma 
will furnish the luxuries of life : tea, quinine, 
opium, etc. The result will be — a phenom- 
enon which we shall doubtless also see 
some day in Tongking — that tracts of land 
now lying waste will be converted into highly 
cultivated centres increasing in value with 
each succeeding year; whilst, with the ex- 
ception of the immediate vicinity of towns, the 
lands of the Delta will remain stationary. 
This future prospect is not so far distant as 
might be thought. 

Pending the development of her agricul- 
ture Burma makes the most of those 
sources of her wealth which can be read- 


ily converted, namely, her forests and her 

But the forests have also proved deceptive. 
Doubtless they contain plenty of timber in 
great variety and of much value. Teakwood 
is, perhaps, more abundant in Burma than 
in any other part of the Indo-Chinese Pen- 
ninsula, and Rangoon and Maulmain are 
certainly the best suppHed markets. In lower 
Burma, before houses were constructed on 
the European model, most of those with any 
pretensions to elegance were built of teak ; 
and, after the local wants had been supplied, 
there still remained a large quantity of tim- 
ber available for export. In the year 1889- 
1890 alone, 182,000 tons, valued at 16 mil- 
lions of rupees, were exported to foreign 
countries and to other provinces of India; 
and in 1 890-1 891 179,000 tons, worth 132 
millions. ^ But teak is not the only exportable 
kind. Statistics prove that in the same year 
about 52,000 tons of other kinds of wood 
were exported either from Rangoon or Maul- 
main, and both official reports and scientific 
works mention a large variety. 

Nevertheless, since the occupation of the 

* The total amounts given of the quantity exported, 
and of the value thereof, are taken from an official doc- 
ument, Review of the Trade of India ^ published in 1890- 
1891. But the figures given in the reports of the 
French and Italian Consuls at Rangoon are considerably 


British, an official inquiry has proved that 
the value of these forests had been overesti- 
mated. Cultivated in the most improvident 
manner by races who have never renewed 
the vacancies caused by their wasteful con- 
sumption, they have been found in many 
places to be totally denuded of timber; so 
that, instead of unrestrictedly drawing upon 
the accumulated reserves, it was found ne- 
cessary here to replant, and there to intro- 
duce European methods of culture. The 
Forest Department have taken stock of the 
timber in the richest districts, and according 
to the supply, either prohibited felling alto- 
gether, or restricted it to a certain rigidly 
limited number of trees. 

The mines, on the contrary, have given 
rise to no misconception. All those which 
were known to exist have been found again, 
and others have been discovered whose ex- 
istence was not anticipated. Thus quite 
recently Mr. Adam, an engineer, discovered 
some rich beds of tin at Khow Morang, near 
Ma-li-won, on the very spot where a few 
years before a search had proved fruitless. 
The mineral wealth of Burma is extremely 
varied, comprising nearly all kinds of metals, 
several metalloids, salt, amber, jade, etc. 
These metals, however, at any rate in those 
districts where they have been hitherto dis- 
covered, are not always found in quantities 


that would cover the working expenses. 
This is the case with iron and copper, and 
gold appears to be scarcely more plentiful. 

With silver it is otherwise. Numerous and 
rich lodes of this metal have been found, 
especially in the Shan States. The silver is 
extracted, and as a rule by very clumsy 
methods, ^ from argentiferous lead yielding 
from 2 to 8 francs' worth of metal to lOO 
kilogrammes of ore. The actual yield of 
metal dating from British rule, has not yet 
transpired, but the figures which were sub- 
mitted to Captain Yule at an earlier date 
testified to considerable productiveness. 

Salt is common enough in Upper Burma ; 
but the trade, being a purely domestic one, 
is of no great importance. 

This is not the case with regard to petro- 
leum, coal, and rubies. 

Petroleum has always been a product of 
Burma. It is found in Lower, as well as in 
Upper Burma : in Lower Burma, in the prov- 
ince of Pegu, at Akyab on the coast of 
Arakan ; and in Upper Burma, at Yenang- 
yaung on the Irrawaddy. In the latter dis- 
trict there are about 540 wells, of which 
300 only are productive, distributed over the 
centres of Yenangyaung, Beme, Twingung^ 
and Yenaungyet. The total yield of oil is 

* See the Report of M. Hildebrandt on the mines of 
Bawsaing, a district of Themyelat. 


from 1 5, OCX) to 20,000 viss per diem (i viss = 
3.56 lbs. English weight). The two centres 
of Yenangyaung and Beme furnish the major 
portion : Yenangyaung has 375 wells (of which 
209 are working) yielding from 12,000 to 15,000 
viss per diem; and Beme, 151 wells (72 work- 
ing) producing 3,600 z^2>5- per diem. Hitherto 
the petroleum wells have been worked by 
plant of the most primitive description. But 
British capital will doubtless bring about an 
improvement in this respect. A large firm, 
that of Finlay, Fleming and Co., has recently 
started in this district. There is no doubt that 
the capital thus invested will yield a fair return. 
Nothing is known, however, respecting the 
capacity of the petroleum wells of Burma. 
This subject was recently discussed by two 
British engineers, one of whom, Mr. Noetling, 
merely admitted that the entire extent and 
depth of the wells had, perhaps, not yet been 
ascertained; whilst the other, Mr. Marvin, 
maintained that Burma possessed a greater 
store of petroleum than the Caucasus and 
the United States put together. The latter 
optimistic assertion meets with much incred- 
ulity. If the Burmese wells were so enor- 
mously productive, the supply of oil, even if 
obtained by the primitive methods hitherto 
employed, would have increased or, at all 
events, not have diminished. But, on the 
contrary, their supply appears to have de- 


creased during the last thirty years. Cap- 
tain Yule whilst inspecting the district of 
Yenangyaung in 1858, with that minute at- 
tention to detail which stamps him as one 
of the most accurate observers, counted only 
200 wells. Of these the most prolific yielded 
about 400 viss per diem. The produce of 
the others scarcely amounted to 180. The 
mean total yield was about 3,600 viss per 
diem. And it is noteworthy that this yield 
was obtained without the encouragement or 
the facilities accorded to this industry at the 
present day. Petroleum was sold at a cheap 
rate: Rs. i to ii per 100 viss. Labour was 
dear, and an export duty of 10 per cent was 
levied on the oil. The proprietor of a well 
used to say that out of a monthly yield of 
27,000 viss^ 9,000 viss went to the labourer, 
1000 to the king; and looo to the land- 
owner of the district. Now that exploration 
is conducted methodically, export duty abol- 
ished, and the price of petroleum consider- 
ably higher, the yield is decreasing ; and both 
Upper and Lower Burma, far from obtaining 
a sufficient supply for their home consump- 
tion, were obliged to import, in 1888- 1889, 
5,400,000 gallons from the United States, and 
965,000 from Baku. ^ These statistics can 

' These figures are, however, only half convincing, and 
the conclusion to be drawn from them is not decisive. 
Burmese petroleum is not a very serviceable oil as an 



hardly allow us to support Mr. Marvin's as- 

With regard to the coal mines and their 
value, there is an equal absence of reliable 
information. Captain Yule, who must inva- 
riably be quoted when summing up Burma's 
resources, discovered in the neighbourhood 
of Thingadhan, on the right bank of the Ir- 
rawaddy, some fairly rich mines, the coal 
from which yielded 2^ per cent of ash. 
Since the annexation of Upper Burma, sever- 
al other coal-fields of some importance have 
been discovered. ^ The first, 70 miles north 
of Mandalay, which must surely be that 
mentioned by Yule, is already leased to a 
syndicate which has started working it. The 
second is in the Chindwin valley, between 
the two rivers Myitha and Yu. Its total 
extent, of varying richness, is estimated at 
175 square miles. The richest section is 
along the river-bank, and measures fifty-five 

illuminant. Even were the production considerably larger, 
there would still be an advantage in importing petroleum 
for lighting purposes from abroad, and in reserving the 
indigenous oil for industrial uses. Besides which, the 
total import from America in 1888- 1889, probably owing 
to speculation, exceeded to an enormous extent the aver- 
age of the preceding years. In 1887- 1888 the oil im- 
ported from that country did not exceed 1,900,000 
gallons, and that imported from Baku only amounted to 
1,200,000 gallons. 

* See the Report of Mr. Jones of the General Survey of 


miles; the seams are of little depth, as a 
rule from 3 to lo feet. The coal appears 
to be of excellent quality, containing on the 
average 50 per cent (49.95) of fixed carbon. 
An English syndicate has already acquired 
the lease of six miles. A third mining centre 
is in the Shan States, near Lasho, in a lo- 
cality about to be traversed by a line of 
railway to be referred to later. This centre 
contains among other seams, one thirty feet 
deep and over two miles long; but the 
quality of the coal is indifferent. Lastly, 
there are other coal-fields at Panlung, at 
Namra, and in Lower Burma, on the 
banks of the river Tenasserim, at a point 
where the latter is still navigable. It should 
be stated, however, that the coal obtained 
from these mines has not up till now been 
used for industrial purposes, and that even 
the State Railways procure their fuel either 
from England, or from Bengal. 

Of all the mineral sources of wealth which 
Burma possesses the most famous — I do not 
say the most valuable — are her ruby mines, 
containing also sapphires, topazes, and em- 
eralds. These mines are situated in two 
districts : the less important being in the 
district of Sagaing, on the Irrawaddy, in a 
hilly country of limestone formation; the 
other, by far the more extensive, in the far 
north, 4000 feet above sea-level, in a dis- 


trict measuring ^^ square miles, which in- 
cludes the basins of Mogok, Yebu, Katha, 
and Kyapin. It is, most probably, the cra- 
ter of an extinct volcano. 

Mogok, the centre of this mining district, 
must formerly have been a place of consi- 
derable importance. Even now a heteroge- 
neous collection of Shans, Manipuris, Chinese, 
and even Burmese congregate there. The 
Burmese are in a minority : as far as it rests 
with them, they are invariably so, wherever 
there is work to be done. 



The Burmese; their character; the primitive state of 
Burmese industry; trade under the monarchical 
regime — The Chinese; the part they play every- 
where in the Far East; their attitude in Burma ; 
the part they may play there. 

The lazy disposition which characterises 
the Burman, results from his preconceived 
notion of life. He it was who, before our 
philosophers, proclaimed man's right to be 
happy, and his right to rest, before our 
socialists. The day of ''the three eights," 
claimed by the most advanced of oiir work- 
ing men, would scarcely satisfy him. He 
would not know what to do with eight 
hours of sleep, not how to endure eight 
hours of work. There is nothing to which 
he is so averse as diligence, unless it be 
regularity. His ideal occupation is one which 
does not occupy^ and which is constantly 
changing. And from the time of awaking 
until bed-time how varied is his idleness. 


and how completely is his time filled up ! 
He requires an interval for talk, an interval 
for doing nothing and for the thorough 
enjoyment of his idleness, and yet a further 
interval for preparation to resume his task. 
Day by day to renew the same work and 
traverse the same route, seems to him intol- 
erable, and even foolish. In the earlier days 
of the occupation Burmese were employed 
as postmen. They performed their duties 
for a week, and then disappeared without 
any warning. Their delight is to huddle 
themselves up, gently balancing themselves 
on the tips of their toes, and smoking inter- 
minable cheroots. Moreover, the activity of 
other people does not disturb their inaction. 
They are rather fond, whilst taking their ease 
themselves, of making their women-folk work. 
For all that, they are good fellows, gener- 
ous, hospitable, vivacious, taking life easily, 
and even easy to govern; but so idle, so 
untruthful, so inclined to throw off any 
burden, and to decline all responsibility that, 
hitherto, no serious enterprise can be based 
upon their labour alone. 

However, as the Burman must live, he 
works. In Lower Burma he can still trust 
to others to procure him the means of earn- 
ing his livelihood : in the factories or in the 
harbours even the laziest can earn a modest 
wage, which suffices for his more than modest 


wants. But in Upper Burma he is of ne- 
cessity thrown upon his own resources. He 
cultivates his rice field with implements of 
the most primitive description ; he keeps a 
few goats — which he prefers to sheep, — 
sometimes even one or two cows, which he 
rears for their meat, and not for their milk, 
for he shares the repugnance which is uni- 
versal in the Far East, to *' become the 
foster brother of the buffalo." Or else he 
may add domestic employment to his scant 
husbandry : he weaves garments for his 
family with silk bought from a Chinese 
merchant; a kind of short skirt called '^putso" 
for males and **tamelin" for females. In 
some districts there are even industries of a 
more complicated nature : Yule, in the course 
of his explorations, saw paper being manu- 
factured (though of so coarse a texture, that 
the natives preferred writing on a palm-leaf) ; 
marble being hewn, and even chiselled into 
highly polished statues ; and a fine quality 
of lacquer being prepared, etc. 

But this is all either infantile or merely 
artistic : Mt is not industry. The North Bur- 
man makes for his personal use only what 
he requires, and for his client only what 

' According to Yule, the Burmese appear to be at 
once industrious, skilful and minute. On this point a 
judgment may be formed from the description given by 
him of the manufacture of lacquer. Op. cit., p. 197-198. 


is ordered; he has not yet soared to the 
idea of saving, or of manufacturing what is 
now called a stock. 

His knowledge of commerce is equally small. 
Indeed, how could he have acquired it ? The 
Chinese from all time and betore the advent 
of the British, his kings also, have saved 
him the trouble. It was a prerogative of the 
kings of Burma, and moreover one of their 
most trustworthy sources of revenue, to pur- 
chase the produce of the country for the 
purpose of reselling it to the Chinese and 
to Europeans; and sometimes even to pur- 
chase foreign products for retail to their 
subjects. This was effected by means of two 
great trade depots established, one at Bhamo 
near the Chinese frontier, and the other at 
Thayetmyo on the frontier of British Burma. 
They sold cotton, india-rubber, lead, timber, 
and rubies. The profits derived in a single 
year from these transactions were estimated 
at six millions of francs (^240,000). Of this 
profit the people naturally received no share. 
Ground down by the king, whose example 
was faithfully adhered to by ministers and 
mandarins, disgusted with a labour which 
only served to enrich their masters, beguiled, 
moreover, by their inconceivable indolence 
into leading a life of inaction and idleness, 
the Burmese have remained in a state of 
childhood even down to our day. And so, 


not they, but others, have undertaken the 
responsibility of the various occupations re- 
quiring energy, precision, and foresight. No 
one dreams of employing Burmese to clear 
the vast uncultivated tracts of Upper Burma ; 
for this purpose natives of Assam and Ben- 
gal are engaged, grants of land being con- 
ceded to them on favourable terms along the 
Mandalay line of railway. Banking, money- 
lending, the higher branches of commerce, 
naval armaments, agencies — all these are in 
the hands, not of Burmese, but of Parsees, 
Persians and, above all, Chinese. 

The number of Chinese is very consider- 
able.^ At Rangoon alone, they number 
30,000. The Chinese take precedence of all 
nations as merchants, and colonists : whether 
they are merchant princes or humble shop- 
keepers, daring capitalists or lenders of small 
sums for a short time at exorbitant interest, 
large contractors or simple navvies, agricul- 
turists and undaunted pioneers, or, near chief 
towns, shrewd gardeners and retired growers 
of early fruit and vegetables, — all, no matter 
when or where, in villages teeming with pop- 
ulation or in districts still uncultivated, are 
sure to be found flocking to the place just 
when their co-operation is needed. They 
come, they contract matrimonial ties, for even 

' See the excellent report of M. Pilinski, French Con- 
sul at Rangoon, Bulletin c onsu lair e f rang ais^]\xnQ^,i^gi. 


the married ones, in deference to custom, 
leave their wives behind in their own coun- 
try ; and they make a fortune whilst their 
rivals are still planning how they shall make 
theirs. Unfortunately, they are occasionally, 
and especially during the earlier period fol- 
lowing their arrival, very difficult to manage. 
As may be surmised, these bold colonists are 
not by any means models of discretion or 
discipline. They go about marauding, and 
thieving, become smugglers and, at a pinch, 
pirates; and the heads of their ^'congrega- 
tions'* have not always the power, or even 
th(; will, to restrain them. 

In a country such as Upper Burma, which 
has for a long period been devastated by 
war, there are frequent opportunities for 
committing crime. Disturbed in their pos- 
session of Bhamo, which they long had in 
their power, contrary to the wish of the 
kings of Burma, and which with their blue 
brick houses, and regularly and neatly paved 
streets they had converted into one of the 
prettiest towns in the kingdom ; masters, 
moreover, of the territory bordering on 
China, and sure of finding a safe refuge, 
and perhaps even assistance, beyond the 
frontier, the Chinese have, since the advent 
of the British, on more than one occasion 
assumed a peculiar attitude. 

Certain British officials, inexperienced in 


dealing with people of this sort, retaliated 
with ill-advised severity. But the Chief 
Commissioners adopted and, as far as they 
could, maintained a different policy : they 
pretended not to notice the existence of 
these evil intentions. Far from fearing the 
advent of these troublesome customers, they 
desired and facilitated it. In succession, 
Sir Charles Bernard in his Jubilee speech. 
Sir Charles Crosthwaite, and, lastly. Sir A. 
Mackenzie in a meeting held at Bhamo which 
the principal Chinese did not deign to attend, 
gave utterance to the most flattering remarks 
concerning them, and made them the most 
enticing promises. 

The valley of the Irrawaddy is open to 
them, w^hatever misdeeds may mark their 
first arrival. They will gradually settle down 
there : some will take up mining, and others, 
agriculture. Doubtless they will for several 
years to come be the cause of much annoy- 
ance, and of many disturbances. But, by 
degrees, with improved communications and 
greater security, the class of immigrants 
will also improve; the good elements will 
eliminate the bad. Already officials better 
acquainted with their customs, such as Mr. 
Warry, a former British Consul in China, 
have succeeded by judicious concessions 
in instilling into them a certain amount of 
discretion, and discipline. Henceforward the 


Chinese may be expected to play a prom- 
inent part in Burma. The daughters of 
Heth, the Burmese coquettes^ do not disdain 
the gallantry of these wily fellows with 
their discreet tongues and open hands. 
From this felicitous union a new race may 
spring which will educate the Burmese 

With the co-operation of people so clever 
as they, the future welfare of the country is 
secured. Burma possesses both natural 
resources, and labour to work them; she 
only needed equipment, good economic laws, 
and well-planned public works. These, 
with one exception to which we are about 
to refer, the British have not failed to give 



Regulations relating to the disposal of land — Gov- 
ernmental rights — Reasons why the Government 
has not endeavoured to transfer land to colonists^ 
or to Chinese — Commercial regulations; the re- 
lations between the mother country and her 
colonies — Custom-house and protective dues; 
home manufacturers versus the colonists and 
the natives; free-trade and its results. 

The economic laws which the British were 
enabled to give to Burma were neither com- 
plex, nor numerous. Her industry is still in 
its infancy; the large towns, where in ad- 
dition to Europeans all those natives who 
imitate, or who tolerate Western civilisation 
are congregated, are chiefly supported by 
trade; whilst the remainder live mainly by 
agriculture. The part the British had to 
play, and the duty they had to perform were 
thus clearly defined : namely, to encourage 
agriculture and commerce, and with this 


object in view, to afford the cultivator easy 
access to land, and the trader every facil- 
ity for disposing of his wares. 

Nothing is perhaps so important in a new 
country as good regulations with regard to 
land-tenure. The conquest has made the 
conqueror the proprietor of, at any rate, 
all domains and all unoccupied lands. The 
choice of a method whereby he will effect 
the transfer of these lands to colonists is a 
matter of the highest importance. This the 
British have well provided for by formulating 
and applying very wise regulations ; their 
legislation for Australia has produced most 
fruitful results, and has been imitated by 
almost all nations.^ Instead of presenting 
land gratuitously, or even offering it to all 
comers, they sell it to the highest bidder. 
This method, which owes its origin to the 
economist Wakefield, furnishes them with 
the wherewithal to meet the expense of 
public works, a primary necessity with young 
colonies; and draws colonists who, having 
paid for their land, know its value and lose 
no time in bringing it under cultivation, 
since they look to it to repay them their 
outlay. The British did not, however, apply 

' See on this subject an important document entitled : 
"Report on the modes in which Land is disposed of in 
the Australian colonies .... and as to what mode would 
be most beneficial in future, both to the colonies and 
the mother country. 1836. 


this method in Burma. Indeed, they appear 
to have displayed no anxiety to adopt any 
method whatever for the transfer of Crown- 
lands to private individuals who would bring 
them under cultivation. 

And yet this would have proved a matter 
of no great difficulty. True, the natives, 
ruined by the war and lacking alike courage 
and capital, were not the kind of people to 
settle in an uncultivated region, exposed to 
incursions, and which would require some- 
what lengthy preparation before yielding any 
return. But what the natives could not do, 
Europeans might have done, and especially 
the Chinese, those elder brethren of all 
Indo-Chinese peoples. With Europeans to 
provide the capital, Chinese as contractors, 
and Burmese as labourers, it would have 
been possible without any further cost than 
that of police and overseers, to establish 
centres of cultivation around which the na- 
tives borrowed from the Delta would soon 
have grouped themselves. Considerable ad- 
vantages might have been derived from the 
adoption of this plan which was simple enough, 
and which the moral support of the Govern- 
ment would have sufficed to put into opera- 
tion : waste lands might have been populated, 
the evolution of the Delta effected, order 
secured, production increased, and foundations 
laid for the future prosperity of Upper Burma. 


Instead of this, grants were indeed made 
to certain officials — at first under nominal, 
but subsequently, because of the scandal, 
under verj' exacting conditions — of a few 
plots of moderate size, and these were usu- 
ally, especially at Mandalay, building-plots ; in 
Bhamo, indeed, some auctions were held at 
which the price realised exceeded Rs. 5 per 
square yard. But, as a general rule, in the 
rural districts, and even in the towns, the 
Government has made no endeavour, and has 
even refused, to sell lands of which it is the 

This course had been already adopted in 
Lower Burma. In Lower Burma the Govern- 
ment does not sell land, but lets it on lease, and 
that for a term rarely exceeding thirty years. 
The reason for this procedure appears to be 
that the British Government being the pro- 
prietor of the greater part of the country, 
wishes to reserve to itself the chance of prof- 
iting by any rise in value which may occur. 
From what has happened in the case of its 
other colonies, it well knows the enormous 
value land acquires as soon as agriculture 
and industry begin to develop, and having 
exclusively borne the cost of conquering and 
organising the country, it lays claim to the 
whole profits of its prosperity. This point of 
view may be justified, and this calculation 
may prove correct; but, to attain this end, 


the Government should first have paved the 
way for the improvement of the lands which 
it withholds. If it retains complete posses- 
sion, the era of prosperity on which it relies 
to so greatly raise the value of its property 
will be slower in coming. And, on the other 
hand, when this era at length does arrive, 
and the Government, (at least in the present 
hypothetical case), has done nothing in prepar- 
ation for its advent, it will furnish those who 
oppose the land-tenure with the only appar- 
ently reasonable argument which they can 
advance, namely, that of *' unearned incre- 

It is highly probable that the British Gov- 
ernment has fully realised the two inconve- 
niences attached to the practice they have 
long since adopted in India,^ and if it still 
makes use of the same measure in Burma, 
it is doubtless actuated by motives other 
than those mentioned above. It is question- 
able whether its motives are not rather of a 
political than an economic nature. Fore- 
seeing — and this seems probable — that the 
purchasers of land will in most instances be 
Europeans, or Chinese capitalists, it possibly 
regards with feelings of no great satisfaction, 

* A third inconvenience is that the same thing might 
happen in Burma as happened in Bombay (where the 
same policy was pursued), viz., that the land might remain 
on the Government's hands. 



and even with a certain amount of misgiving, 
the advent of colonists who are as a rule 
difficult to please, in any case inclined to 
criticise, and at all times prone to ascertain 
public feeling with regard to their grievances. 
Now, established in India with exceedingly 
limited and scarcely adequate forces both 
civil and military, in the midst of a native 
population numbering 250 millions swayed by 
its prestige alone, the government must be 
in a constant state of anxiety lest this prestige 
should be compromised. And as the prestige 
in reality amounts merely to a conviction of 
its own infallibility which it has succeeded 
in instilling into the natives, the more criti- 
cisms it encounters — whether justified or not 
is of little moment at the present time — 
the greater will be the number of possibil- 
ities militating against British Supremacy in 

*"A man who arrives in India with ;fiooo in his 
pocket and wishes to buy land for agricultural purposes 
may very easily spend all his money and have nothing 
to show for it but a heap of official correspondence: 
"Why does he require land? — What will he do with 
it?— Is he a respectable person? — Will he carry out 
the ideas of Government in all that he does? — Will he 
pay a high rent, whether he is successful or no? — 
And, finally, the land granted him will be summarily 
confiscated if he fails to fulfil all the conditions set 
forth in the contract. This is excellent from a govern- 
mental point of view, but under such conditions there 
will be no colonists."). W. W. Danson, Rangoon, 26th 
September, 1889. (Letter to The Economist,) 


Whatever the motives of the British 
Government may be, one thing cannot be 
disputed, that it has done nothing for 

Neither has it done anything for com- 
merce. As a matter of fact^ as regards the 
latter, any action was unnecessary. For in 
any country, and not merely in a new country 
such as Burma, the action most beneficial to 
commerce is — inaction, I am not, of course, 
referring to the equipment, but to those regu- 
lations which are termed tutelary, and which, 
under the pretext of protecting, and infusing 
life into commerce, have invariably paralysed 
it, if indeed they have not actually been its 
death-blow. The British Government has 
therefore wisely not attempted to make any 
regulations, and its inaction, though, injurious 
to agriculture, has on the contrary been 
most helpful to commerce ; though, in reality 
commerce is no more beholden to this 
Government, than is agriculture itself: the 
interests of the mother country have been 
exclusively consulted throughout. 

We may add that this is a practice 
common to all mother countries in their 

* Little importance can really be attached to the 
small sums of money advanced by Government to agri- 
culturists. Such measures are childish in comparison 
with so efficacious a procedure as that of disposing of 
land to the colonists. 


dealings with their Colonies. The foundation 
of a colony is, nowadays, nothing more than 
a work of far-seeing egoism, which the 
mother country undertakes exclusively in 
her own interest, and from which she intends 
reaping the exclusive benefit at the earliest 
possible date. But the colonies themselves 
resemble children: they did not ask to be 
brought into the world; once born, all they 
ask for is to be allowed to grow and to 
prosper ; and any circumstance which impedes 
their growth or retards their prosperity 
appears hateful to them, all the more so 
if it is due to the mother country. The 
latter, who has founded the colony with a 
view to her own advantage, looks upon it 
as bound to be always giving^ and never 
requiring anything. From these opposite 
views, indeed but natural, a perpetual con- 
flict, and one which is more or less acute, 
ensues, dating from the day following the 
foundation, and scarcely at an end when the 
colony is emancipated. 

Now, the arena on which these conflicting 
interests first battle against each other, is 
the arena of commerce. The mother country, 
tired of always paying for her colony, loses 
no time in requiring the latter to share these 
expenses, and, to enable it to do so, to 
provide itself with a regular source of rev- 
enue. This source of revenue the colony 



will obviously obtain by means of taxes ; 
and the first tax which suggests itself is 
a custom-duty on the chief articles of con- 
sumption and of traffic in the colony. 
The importance and value of these articles 
is assessed, with due regard to different 
circumstances and countries, either on ar- 
rival, on departure, or on their circulation 
in the interior. This is a practice which is 
so convenient and so productive that it 
has been resorted to by all nations in 
all ages. Even at the present day the 
least civilised peoples, the last of the petty 
kings on the coast of Africa, when they 
wish to furnish their creditors with a cer- 
tain amount of security, can devise no more 
efficacious a plan than that of allowing 
them to collect the customs, and to appro- 
priate their proceeds. 

Unfortunately, this procedure, though so 
simple in itself, constitutes a tax on com- 
merce — a tax which must, moreover, be borne 
by the colony and its inhabitants. The 
conqueror came to the natives brimful of 
enticing promises; extolling the advantages 
of civilisation, and above all others, the 
abundance and cheapness of everything. 
He even attracted colonists by dazzling them 
with the facilities which a new country free 
from all the impediments and all the bur- 
dens which the machinery of old-world civi- 


lisation entails, offered to their undertakings ; 
and lo! he imposes on natives and colonists 
alike, a burden which increases the cost of living 
for the consumer, and restricts the profits 
of the trader. In order as far as possible 
to appease their apparently legitimate dis- 
content — for the mother country can adduce 
good arguments-— this tax must at all events 
be made light and easy, must be assessed 
at a moderate rate, and be levied only on 
a limited number of commodities. This the 
British well understood. In Burma only six 
commodities were taxed of those for circu- 
lation in the interior, valuable woods, teak, 
etc. ; of exports, rice ; of imports, spirits, 
salt, arms and ammunition, and, by a recent 
decision, petroleum. 

Soon, however, there arises another source 
of contention between mother country and 
colony. Colonies constitute investments which 
are certainly excellent, but which yield no 
return for long years to come. The gener- 
ation which founds them finds but scanty 
consolation for the expense which it incurs 
in the thought of the profits that will ac- 
crue to future generations. It wishes to 
enjoy these profits itself, and claims to reap 
some immediate advantage in return for the 
pains which it has taken, and the sacrifices 
which it has made. What compensation 
can it hope for? Additional honour to its 


flag ? Further prestige to its name ? Yes, in- 
deed; but this does not suffice; something 
more substantial, some material benefit is 
looked for. And it says to its Govern- 
ment: *'How will you guarantee me this 

Now, when this question has to be faced 
in all ages and in all countries a certain 
class of citizens is ready to give an imme- 
diate reply : I mean the manufacturing class. 
The manufacturers' argument is this : Colonies 
are founded for the sole benefit of the 
mother country. Any returns they may 
yield must accrue to the inhabitants of the 
mother country. Now, the latter cannot 
expect the Government to distribute the 
profits among them at so much per head of 
population. This would be neither easy as 
a means of distribution, nor efficacious as a 
means of enrichment. But it may be ad- 
mitted that amongst the millions of inhabi- 
tants of the mother country, there will be 
some who may be chosen to be direct re- 
cipients of the profits of the colonisation, 
with the understanding that they will sub- 
sequently enable their fellow-citizens to 
share them by a free circulation of the goods, 
and by the perfected mechanism of trade. 
And those who seem to be clearly indicated 
as fit persons to fill this office of interme- 
diary, are the manufacturers of the mother 


country. They are the most prominent 
among those who have urged and even en- 
couraged the foundation of colonies; they 
have generally borne a larger share of the 
expenses incident to their foundation than 
the other rate-payers : as a. consequence they 
are entitled to rank among the first who 
shall profit by the colonial enterprise; and 
to ensure their doing so is easy enough: 
all that is necessary is to levy a custom- 
duty on goods imported into the colony, 
not a fiscal, but a differential and pro- 
tective due, and to grant to )iome pro- 
ducts other and more favourable terms 
than those afforded to foreign products : the 
market of the colony and the profits deriv- 
ed therefrom will thus be reserved to them 
and, through the medium of the manufac- 
turers, the mother country will be sure of 
reaping the advantages which it is her en- 
deavour to secure. 

This apparently rational theory is one which 
is held in common by the manufacturers of 
almost all countries, especially by French 
manufacturers ; to it we owe the institution 
of our general colonial tariff, even in Tong- 
king which, coveted by our statesmen as of- 
fering the shortest route to Western China for 
our European commerce, has by a solemn and 
strikingly unanimous vote of our Parliament 
been, from the very first, almost entirely 


closed to foreign merchandise, whatever its 
destination, and is even now, on the timid 
initiative of the local authorities which the 
parties interested have all but ignored, only 
open to passing vessels with goods for other 

In opposition to this theory which is so 
favourable to manufacturers and, as expe- 
rience has proved, so prejudicial to the na- 
tion at large — for the home manufacturers 
never succeed in fully supplying the market 
from which they have driven their foreign 
rivals, whilst the colonial merchants are re- 
stricted to a dull and unprofitable trade by 
the sale of mere national products — another 
may be urged which, starting from the same 
premises, ends in a totally different conclu- 
sion. Like the former, it recognises that the 
time has gone by when colonies were founded 
with a special view to the propagation of re- 
ligion or of civilisation; like it, it proclaims 
that colonies are founded for the benefit of 
the inhabitants of the mother country, and 
that, as the latter cannot individually receive 
their quota of profit, it is absolutely neces- 
sary to find a fraction of them who shall be 
the recipients of these profits, and form a 
channel whereby they may gradually flow 
into all parts of the mother country. But 
the mother country does not fix upon the 
manufacturers, that privileged and useful class. 


as this fraction. She does not designate 
any special class for this office; her choice 
falls in anticipation on the class which shall 
establish a prior right thereto, and make 
the best use of the same, Now, this class 
is that of the men who have left their country, 
their families, the society in which they 
moved, all the comforts of civilisation, and 
have gone out to the colony, thus exposing 
their lives and their fortunes to innumerable 
risks; it is the class of men who by their 
presence on the spot are alone in a position 
to influence the market of the colony : it is, 
in fact, the colonists themselves. 

Now, the interests of the colonists are 
diametrically opposed to those of the manu- 
facturers : their cry is : away with protective 
dues ; even, if possible, away with fiscal 
tariffs; away with differential dues; away 
with obstacles of any sort. Throw all gates 
wide open to all products. And the results 
of this system may be thus summarised. 
For the native an easy life and plentiful 
means of subsistence ; for the colonial market 
activity and wealth ; for the foreign markets, 
for the countries on the line of communica- 
tion, rapid and cheap access ; for the colonist 
a fortune made by modest profits realised 
on multifarious and important transactions; 
for the Treasury an increased revenue — 
relieving the mother country ; for the colony 


the good repute which wealth confers ; and, 
lastly, for the mother country the wide- 
spread conviction ' amongst the nations that 
henceforth there will be no cause for regret 
should she take possession of any portion of 
the globe still unappropriated. This is the 
theory which for a century past has been 
adopted and applied by Great Britain, and 
which in a great measure accounts for the 
astounding prosperity of her Colonial Empire. 
This is the one, which prevails in India, and 
in Burma, and which has made Rangoon, the 
depot of Burmese trade, one of the finest 
and wealthiest cities of the Far East. 

For this, however, Burma, as I have stated, 

I was not indebted to Great Britain. Indeed, 

this policy which appears to us here as a 
result of the wisdom and the generosity of 
the mother country, was, under the circum- 
stances of its origin, but the result of egotism, 
and envy. 

Indeed, an incident occurred, some twenty 
years since, which as forming a curious 
episode in the history of commerce deserves 

^ to be generally known. On this occasion 

it was the home manufacturers who were 
jealous of their colonial brethren, and demand- 
ed the abolition of the tariffs for which the 
colony had voted. This is a reversal of the 
usual order of things, with which France is 
as yet unacquainted, but which she will ex- 


perience later, and which may completely 
upset her system of colonial tariffs. 

India, as I have previously pointed out, 
has for a long time past had a fiscal, and 
even a protective tariff. This tariff, which at 
the outset was very severe, has been gradu- 
ally lessened, the number of commodities on 
which it was levied has been reduced, and 
the rate of assessment lowered. Never- 
theless, up to 1879 it ^^s still levied on 
imports of primary importance, and especially 
on what are termed cotton goods. Under 
the sheltering protection of this tariff a native 
cotton manufacture had developed so greatly, 
as to cause umbrage to the Lancashire cotton- 
spinners. Since 1876, owing to protests, to 
which the approaching elections lent great 
weight, the British Government urged the 
Government of India to abolish the duty on 
cotton goods. 

The despatch which Lord Salisbury, the 
then Secretary of State for India, indited 
on this occasion is a very curious one. In 
it Lord Salisbury showed with great accur- 
acy the motives militating in favour of the 
abolition of this duty, and with equal sa- 
gacity the excellent results which would 
accrue to India from its abolition. That 
his arguments were inspired solely by a 
sincere regard for India's interests concerns 
us little; one point only should be borne in 


mind: which is, that political economy was 
amply justified on this occasion, and that 
what was perhaps devised solely in the in- 
terests of Lancashire, proved through the 
stress of circumstances, of the greatest benefit 
to India. 

" I maintain," said Lord Salisbury sub- 
stantially, '' that there is no conflict between 
the interests of India and those of England. 
The abolition of this duty would undoubtedly 
afford great relief to an important British 
industry; but, at the same time, it would 
constitute a measure of still greater conse- 
quence to the interests ot India. This duty 
has the effect of restricting the importation 
of British products; but, on the other hand, 
it opens out a sad prospect for an Indian 
industry which it is of the highest impor- 
tance to establish on a secure and solid 
basis. With such a basis everything points 
to the probability of its rapid develop- 
ment; but it must not be allowed to grow 
under conditions or influences which past 
experience teaches us must inevitably 
prove unfavourable to its development and 
to its good constitution. Whether the ques- 
tion be considered in so far as it affects 
the consumer, the producer, or the Trea- 
sury, I hold that the interests of India 
imperatively demand the opportune aboli- 
tion of a tax which is erroneous in prin- 


ciple, injurious in practice, and ruinous in its 
effects." ' 

In consequence of these urgent solicita- 
tions the Government of India took the 
matter into consideration, and in 1 879 Lord 
Lytton, who was then Viceroy, acting on the 
report of Sir John Strachey, and contrary 
to the advice of his Council, abolished the 
duty on cotton goods, in the first instance 
on certain qualities only, and in 1 88 1 on all 
the remaining descriptions. From that time 
forward trade has enjoyed perfect freedom ; 
nowhere, not even in England, has trade 
been so free from restrictions. And, a few 
years later, all Lord Salisbury's predic- 
tions came true. Cotton imports rose from 
/ 1 9,000,000 in 1887 to 31 J millions in 1888 
-1889; the native cotton manufacture gave 
employment in 1889 to 2,625,000 spindles, 
instead of 1,298,000 as in 1877; and its 
exports to countries in the Far East, which 
in 1874 scarcely reached ^i,ooo,ooo,exceeded 
^6,290,000 in 1 888- 1 889. Thus the egotism 
of a few eventually resulted in an advantage 
to all. 

Nevertheless, it would be puerile to attri- 
bute the prosperous condition of the Indian 
community under the British protectorate to 
free-trade alone; many other causes have 

' See Sir John Strachey' s Work, India (p. 102), to 
which I have already alluded. 


contributed to it and among them the devel- 
opment of means of communication, and 
the impulse given to public works. Lord 
Dufferin bore this in mind. The annexation 
of Burma dated from December, 1885 ; in 
February, 1886, Lord Dufferin embarked 
for Rangoon, and at once proceeded to plan, 
and to carry out a scheme of public works. 



The Public Works Budget of Burma — Roads — Rivers 
— Roads versus Railways — Railways — Vari- 
ous litres constructed or sanctioned — The line 
from Toungoo to Mandalay: political and finan- 
cial results. , 

Of all the means which a Government can 
bring to bear to develop the resources of a 
country, there are few more efficacious than 
public works. This fact holds good in all 
countries, and especially in a conquered 
country during the agitated period of time 
succeeding a war. The first problems to be 
faced by the conqueror are, in fact, how to 
discourage his late foes by proving to them, 
in deed and no longer in word, that his 
occupation is intended to be permanent ; how 
to conciliate the labouring class by provid- 
ing it with work^ if poor, or if well-off, with 
improved means of acquiring wealth; and, lastly, 
how to requite its soldiers and civil officers 


by insuring them greater security and com- 
fort. These problems may partly be solved 
by means of well-planned public works. 

The successive rulers of Burma since 1885 
have not deceived themselves on this point. 
Lord Dufferin, the first in order of date, used 
to say that he anticipated great things from 
the public works. Nevertheless, the scanty 
means at his disposal largely curtailed his 
plans. None but those works which were 
absolutely necessary were at first to be 
undertaken : roads to connect posts already 
occupied, and to form a means of reaching 
new ones ; some few barracks, and hospitals 
for the troops who were so enervated by 
the climate and the fatigue of continual 
watching. At a later period this programme 
was enlarged; law-courts, and official resi- 
dencies to keep up appearances in the 
eyes of the natives, were erected; then 
followed the repair and even extension of 
embankments, and irrigating canals ;^ and, 
lastly, came railways. His successors pur- 
sued the same policy. In 1886 the Public 
Works Budget for Upper Burma amounted 
to about ^80,000; in 1887- 1888, as also in 

' For a country such as Burma, irrigation is of the 
utmost utility. The British-Indian Government has not 
hitherto devoted to this purpose as much capital as it 
requires. In 1892 the sum credited to this account 
still does not exceed Rs. 500,000. 



1 888-1 889, it had risen to nearly ^480,000 ; 
and, lastly, that for 1892 is estimated at 
13 millions of rupees, of which 10 millions 
are for railways alone. 

The various items in the 1889 budget of 
nearly ^480,000, the latest budget of which 
particulars are at hand, were as follows : 
2^160,000 for barracks, hospitals^ etc.; 
;^ 1 24,000 for State buildings, such as law- 
courts, prisons, post and telegraph offices, 
etc.; ^48,000 for sundry disbursements ; and 
lastly, ;^ 1 40,000 for communications. ^ I shall 
confine my observations to this last item. 

The sum of ;^ 140,000 to be applied ex- 
clusively to lines of communication is a by 
no means despicable provision. Our Gover- 
nors of Tongking can testify to this, for 
when they have paid their engineers and 
superintendents, they have nothing left. 
And yet this sum does not represent the 
whole expenditure under this heading. In 
the ^140,000 neither embankments (which 
in these countries are used as roads) nor 
railways are included. Low as the state of 
the exchequer might be, it was not thought 

* These figures do not, however, correspond with 
those given by the official document East India Ac- 
counts and Estimates^ 1 891 -1892, C. 6454, 1891. p. 13. 
I shall quote here merely the following figures referring 
to the year 1 888-1 889: Irrigation, Rs. 246,000; Public 
Works (Military), Rs. 1,604,000; Public Works (Civil), 
Rs. 2,908,000; Total Rs. 4,756,000. 


desirable to postpone any longer the provi- 
sion of a superior equipment. From a strat- 
egical, as well as an economic standpoint 
great importance was attached to these works ; 
as much was expected of a highway in good 
order, and a well-constructed railroad as of 
a battalion, or even a regiment of soldiers, 
and the British even went the length of 
curtailing their military budget in order that 
they might increase their expenditure on 
bridges and roads. 

The first thing that had to be thought 
of, was roads. In Lower Burma the mistake 
had been made of neglecting this item : each 
succeeding Chief Commissioner had commit- 
ted the same error. Living at Rangoon, 
on the sea, at the extremity of a Delta 
dissected by so great a number of rivers 
and canals, most of them did not trouble 
themselves much about the rest of the coun- 
try. This proved a matter for regret on 
more than one occasion : ^ but their expe- 
rience was not forgotten in dealing with 
Upper Burma. 

A country intersected by water-ways and 
bristling with mountains has naturally very 
few roads : on the level tracts streams and 

* "Lower Burma has been for several years in our 
possession. But preceding governments have displayed 
so little foresight that there are as few practicable 
roads in Lower, as in Upper Burma." (Tke Times, 
29th September, 1888.) 



rivers suffice for all purposes, and in the 
mountainous regions only foot-paths are met 
with. Now, it was to the mountains that the 
last of the belligerents fled for refuge. Numer- 
ous stations had been established there : in 
order to connect these with each other and 
with the principal centres, it was found 
necessary to widen the foot-paths, and to 
cut new roads. And this work was pro- 
ceeded with without delay and, above all, 
without interruption. Simultaneous surveys 
were made of international routes, if we 
may so call them, leading from the Irra- 
waddy to the Brahmaputra, from Assam to 
Burma; of national highways connecting the 
valleys with one another, from the Chind- 
win to the Irrawaddy, from Chittagong to 
Mandalay; and lastly of roads to form con- 
necting links between the various districts. 
However, very properly, what was most 
urgent was dealt with first : as a beginning, 
connection was established between the va- 
rious postal and administrative districts. 
At the beginning of 1887 there were 300 
miles of good main-roads, some macadamised ; 
and numerous branch-roads. Since then, 
these works have year by year been largely 
added to, and there is now hardly a single 
district which has not at least one road. 

Naturally, whilst these roads were in course 
of construction, other means of transport, 


and especially the most important of all, 
namely streams and rivers, were not neglect- 
ed. I have said that Burma is intersected 
by numerous water-ways : the Irrawaddy, the 
Salwen, the Sittang, the Chindwin, the Mu, 
and several others, forming a convenient and 
economical means of communication extend- 
ing over considerable area. Unfortunately, 
these rivers, like most of the rivers of Indo- 
China, are, to use a very appropriate epithet, 
incomplete; they offer two great obstacles 
to navigation : in the dry season their waters 
are frequently too shallow for vessels of 
even the lightest draught ; in the rainy sea- 
son thy are transformed into rushing torrents. 
They then drag, so to speak, their bed along 
with them : sand and slime are carried down 
to the sea, and form a deposit at the mouth 
of the river, thereby creating formidable bars 
which gradually gain on the sea and extend 
the mainland; the residue, consisting of 
stones, shingle and rocks, arrested at inter- 
vals in their downward course by natural 
obstacles, create very dangerous rapids. In 
addition to this, the waters, enormously 
swollen by the rains, overflow their banks, 
and inundate the surrounding country. 

As a preventative against inundations, 
embankments are constructed. Orientals are 
past-masters in this work: they construct, 
and keep up these artificial embankments 


with means, the simplicity and efficacy of 
which cannot but rouse the envy of our 
ablest engineers. These embankments in 
some places reach a prodigious size. Yet 
the rivers of Indo-China are by nature well 
embanked; their natural banks rise above 
the water-level to a height of from thirty to 
sixty-five feet (and sometimes more) : at 
Thabetyin in Burma they even reach a height 
of 1 20 feet. On heights to which it might 
be thought the water could never rise, it is 
surprising to see the native, still distrustful 
of the river's vagaries, perch his hut, as a 
bird builds its nest, on the top of frail 
bamboos. The native is, however, quite right. 
When the rainy season comes, the river rises 
and, were it not for these embankments, 
would overflow into the valley beneath. At 
a distance of 250 miles from the sea the 
Irrawaddy in the rainy season rises to over 
45 feet above its dry-season level, and its 
embankments, which extend for nearly 300 
miles, in some places exceed sixteen feet 
in height. It may well be imagined what 
an amount of attention and money the 
maintenance of such a work entails. At all 
events, this expenditure insures almost abso- 
lute security to the life and property of the 

Less happy results have been attained in 
combating the shoals and the rapids. The 


sure but costly methods employed in Europe 
to regulate the flow of rivers, and to insure 
the maintenance of a uniform depth at all 
seasons of the year, could not be adopted 
with these gigantic streams^ and in these 
still impoverished countries. The rapids 
may be destroyed with dynamite. This 
means has not apparently been hitherto 
employed in Burma; but at Tonking, the 
French have attained the best results from 
its use on streams which in character and 
size resemble the Irrawaddy above Bhamo. 
To combat the shoals, there is but one 
resource, and that a very inadequate one, 
viz. — to build boats of light draught. It is, 
however, a very unpractical resource in places 
where there is much navigation. The Irra- 
waddy which is by far the most important 
river, and which absorbs almost the entire 
traffic of the interior of Burma, is uncertain 
and difficult to navigate. For several months 
in the year its waters lower so considerably 
as not even to afford a depth sufficient for 
river-steamers, and the continually shifting 
sand-banks baffle even the most experienced 
pilots. Captain Yule, in 1853, and quite 
recently. Lady Dufferin, have both recounted 
their adventures on board vessels which had 
run aground on sand-banks. Besides sand- 
banks, the rocks are a great source of danger ; 
the latter have already been the cause of 


several wrecks : witness the Thureah of the 
Flotilla Company, which Company was also 
destined, shortly after to lose the Patheen 
on the Chindwin. 

Under such conditions, traffic is suspended 
for several weeks, and above Bhamo for sev- 
eral months, in the course of each year. 
Captain Yule states further that it took him 
83 days to cover the short distance from 
Bhamo to Tsa-Choe-Sing. Moreover, after 
passing Bhamo, the river is only navigable 
for a further distance of from 120 to 150 
miles ; at Hokat there is a rapid which has 
hitherto proved impassable, whilst the preci- 
pitous banks, crowned by mountains 6,000 
feet high, render trans-shipment almost pro- 

Mortal man can do little, directly, to coun- 
teract difficulties such as these. The canal- 
isation of a river which at a distance of 
800 miles from the sea is almost as broad 
as at its mouth, is apparently a chimerical 
project. The expense of cutting a channel 
would be enormous, and even when cut would, 
doubtless, with so variable a bed and sand- 
banks so continually shifting, be impossible 
to keep clear. The other rivers are no better 
constituted. To derive any advantage from 
them, the only available course is to put 
down buoys which w^ould have to be sub- 
jected to constant revision, to train efficient 

' < 


pilots, and to construct boats specially adapted 
for the navigation. In this respect the potent 
Irrawaddy Flotilla Company has done all that 
was possible to be done. Its fleet, one of 
the largest — if not the very largest — of river- 
fleets, supplies the entire service on the 
Irrawaddy from Rangoon to Bhamo and be- 
yond, and according as the season admits of 
it, also on the rivers Chindwin, Myitnge, etc. 

In spite of this, the navigation of these 
rivers continues intermittent and irregular. 
A Government in the critical position which 
the Government of Burma then occupied, 
could not, without imprudence, rest satisfied 
with communications of so precarious a na- 
ture; it required more regular and more 
rapid means of communication: of such 
there were apparently none other but rail- 

There was, however, some hesitation in 
choosing between railways and cart-roads. 
Not indeed in Burma, where no one thought 
of comparing means of transport so dissimi- 
lar, but in London, at the India Office. 
Lord Kimberley, when he was asked to sanc- 
tion the construction of the line from Toungoo 
to Mandalay, replied by inquiring whether 
*'at least in the present state of the Burmese 
finances, and until they showed some improve- 
ment, the attention of the Government 
would not be more advantageously directed 


to good roads available for use in all seasons, 
which would form a connecting link between 
the principal centres?" However, the local 
Government easily overcame that objection : 
Upper Bui ma now has already 314, and Lower 
Burma 336 miles of railways.^ 

But the history of the construction of 
these railways is so instructive that we 
cannot avoid entering into further details. 

In Lower Burma the question of railroads 
had apparently for a long period attracted 
as little attention as that of highways. The 
British had been masters of part of the 
country since 1824^ of the entire country 
since 1852, and it was not until 1877 (2nd 
May) that the line of railway from Rangoon 
to Prome was opened. Then an interval of 
eight years elapsed before the opening of 
the line from Rangoon to Toungoo. 

It is a noteworthy fact that the British 
felt their way in India for a century and a 
half before they succeeded in evolving a 
rational system. In particular, they do not 
appear to have appreciated until a very late 

* These 650 miles are apportioned as follows : in Low- 
er Burma: Rangoon to Prome (1877), 161 miles; Rangoon 
to Toungoo (1885), 166 miles; Suburban lines, 9 miles; 
in Upper Burma: Toungoo to Mandalay, the second 
section of the Hne from Rangoon to Mandalay (1887- 
1888', 220 miles; Sagaing to Shwebo and Wuntho, the 
two first sections of the Mu Valley line (i 891), 94 miles. 
To the above should be added the lines sanctioned, or 
already in course of construction. 


period the economic and political importance 
of public works, of means of communication, 
etc. In 1 836-1837 the Indian Public Works 
Budget did not exceed ^81,000. In 1850 
it had already been increased to ;^400,ooo, 
not to mention an extraordinary budget for 
barracks, hospitals, etc.; in 1886-1887 their 
eyes were opened, and the Public Works 
Budget figured at ;^ 15,617,000. Moreover, 
when the idea was entertained of pacifying 
and developing the resources of Upper Burma, 
it had its origin in other motives than those 
which had so long prevailed in the rest of 
India, and particularly in Lower Burma. 

*^Next to a strong police-force, and an 
efficient civil administration, nothing is more 
important, as a means of pacification, than 
the opening up of improved communications, 
and among others, of the railways now about 
to be constructed as far as Mandalay." It 
was in such terms that the Edinburgh Review 
wrote (April, 1887), though its remarks were 
merely a recapitulation of the opinion enter- 
tained by the highest authorities. From the 
very first. Lord Dufferin, Sir Frederick 
(now Lord) Roberts, Sir George White, Sir 
Charles Bernard, Colonel Fryer, were all of 
the opinion that, notwithstanding Burma's 
meagre budget, the construction of railroads 
must be proceeded with at once. In concur- 
rence with Sir Herbert McPherson, who had 


just met his death in the country he knew 
so well, they opined that ^* every line of 
railway opened' in Burma would be of more 
value than an army-corps," and would be at 
once a source of wealth, of great strategical 
worth, and an agent of pacification. 

'^ The opening of a railroad to Mandalay — 
an extension to Upper Burma of the line from 
Rangoon to Toungoo — would,*' to quote a 
document dating from the middle of 1886, 
^^have important results both in Burma, and 
the Shan States. In Upper Burma a great 
number of people refuse to believe that the 
British have really conquered their country 
and are in actual occupation of Mandalay; 
a great number of others will not admit that 
we intend to remain in the country, and to 
govern it in the name of the Queen-Empress. 
The opening of a State Railway would have 
a decisive effect over these doubts and 

^^On the other hand the work, and the 
wages which it would provide, would exercise 
a great influence on the pacification of the 
country, and would reconcile the population 
to British rule. In the region through which 
this line is to pass, the villages have been 
plundered by dacoits and rebels; and the 
peasants have been unsettled by the anarchy 
which prevailed last year. When we shall 
have opened the line of railway for a con- 


siderable distance in this region, have guarded 
and efficiently protected it, the immediate 
effect upon the population will be very great : 
work will have been provided for them dur- 
ing the slack season, and thereby they will 
have been enabled to earn money ; ^ lastly, 
a practical proof will have been afforded 
them of the interest which the British 
Government takes in their country. 

** Naturally, the impression created by the 
construction of the railway will be but tem- 
porary, but it will be precisely at a time 
when there is most need of it; for our 
present object is, to induce the various 
races to submit, to supply them with an 
outlet for their energy and with the means 
of providing sustenance for their families 
by devoting themselves to peaceable occupa- 
tions. Moreover, apart from this effect, the 
railway will produce other and more lasting 
effects upon the population: it will supply 
them with the means of travelling hither and 
thither; of forming an idea of the power of 
the British, of their system of administration, 

* In the year 1891 there occurred one of those period- 
ically recurring famines which are the scourge of Upper 
Burma. Two-thirds of the population were rendered 
destitute. The Government doled out relief in kind, 
decided, to meet the urgencies of the case, on the 
construction of a line from Myingan to Meiktila, the 
repair of the breaches in certain embankments, and in 
short, provided work for more than forty thousand people. 


of their anxiety for the welfare of the people ; 
and thus induce them, at length, to consent 
to become the subjects of Her Britannic 

" The objection has been raised that a 
railway is a very costly affair; that neither 
India nor Burma has a rupee to spare for 
expenses which can possibly be deferred; 
that in most countries roads precede railways, 
and that there are no roads in Upper Burma. 
The suggestion has been made that it would 
perhaps be preferable to expend the meagre 
resources available on a system of branch 
roads leading to the principal trade centres, 
and to a central high-road which might 
subsequently be converted into a railway. 
Of course the Government ought not in the 
present state of its exchequer to launch out 
into works which may be deferred, or alto- 
gether avoided. But, in my opinion, it would 
take thirty years to construct the net-work 
of roads in question, and no central high- 
road under whatever circumstances it may 
be built, can afford the province the com- 
mercial, political, strategical and administrative 
advantages which the proposed railway will 
afford. Nay, more; I believe I am justified 
in entertaining the hope that ten years hence 
this railway, instead of being a burden, will 
prove a direct source of revenue, which a 
system of roads could never be. 


^^ It is true that the cost of constructing 
a railway would be from six to seven times 
as much as that of a central highway of 
equal length, and from three to four times 
as much as a system of cross-roads converg- 
ing towards a central roadway; but the 
capital expended on the construction of a 
railway, would^ within a short space of time, 
yield returns in excess of the interest there- 
on; whilst at the end of the same period 
the mere up-keep of a system of roads would 
represent a total equal to half as much 
again as the initial cost of their construction. 
The new railway would convey additional 
traffic to the section from Toungoo to 
Rangoon, which alone would constitute a 
considerable source of income, and this 
again must be added to .the number of 
indirect advantages which would accrue from 
this plan. Thus, not only would this railway 
be self-supporting, but it would yield surplus 
receipts with which branch lines could be 
opened subsequently as feeders ; and further, 
it would constitute in the districts which it 
traverses, a means of pacification and enrich- 
ment incomparably superior to that afforded 
by the most perfect system of roads imagin- 

The preceding passages are extracts from 

' Burmah, 1887, C. 4962. 



a memorandum of Sir Charles Bernard, dated 
lOth June, 1886, six months after the Brit- 
ish occupation of Burma. This memorandum 
was addressed to the Viceroy, Lord DuflFerin. 
The Viceroy endorsed the conclusions, and 
on the 6th August telegraphed to London 
recommending them to the consideration of 
the Secretary of State for India in Council; 
on the 20th September he urged their adop- 
tion in an explanatory despatch ; on the fol- 
lowing 27th October he received a telegram 
to this effect: *' Received your despatch of 
20th September last, concerning railway. 
The construction of the Mandalay Railway is 
sanctioned." A year had not elapsed since 
the British entered Upper Burma. Who could 
fail to admire and to envy this promptitude 
in coming to a decision! 

Moreover, pending the arrival of this mes- 
sage, a preliminary survey of the trace and 
levels had been made, and on its receipt, it only 
remained to commence operations. The works 
progressed rapidly. The first section from 
Toungoo to Pyinmana was opened for traffic 
in July, 1888, and the whole line on the ist 
March, 1889. The formal opening of the 
line was conducted with great ceremony in 
the presence of Sir Charles Elliott, Minister 
of Public Works. The construction of a 
line 220 miles long, in the interior of a 
depopulated country, where labour was 


scarce,^ traversing mountains from 400 to 
500 feet high, and crossing rivers from 300 
to 500 feet wide had occupied no more than 
two years and a half and had cost only Rs. 
92,000 per mile. 

Moreover, the line at once fulfilled the 
expections which had been formed of it. It 
had taught the people wisdom, and acts of 
piracy and crimes of all sorts became less 

Objections have been raised to the man- 
agement of the line.^ It has been asserted 
that the Government was entering into an 
unwise competition with the river-traffic, by 
reducing its rates wherever trade was offered 
a choice between the transport by rail or by 
water. And no one can approve of such 
tactics, though the Executive may themselves 
plead in excuse the necessity of recouping 
its outlay. 

The actual line has likewise been criticised. 
It has been said that it was folly to construct 
a first line of railway parallel with the finest 
river of Burma, and through a district better 
supplied than any other with means of trans- 
port by water. This criticism is unfounded. 

' On the eastern section of the line, the scarcity of 
labourers was still further aggravated by a positive 
aversion to work, and by a display of hostility towards 
those in charge of the works. Even beggars refused to 
let themselves be enrolled. 

^ See a letter to The Times of 28th October, 1889. 



The line from Toungoo to Mandalay formed 
the natural complement of that from Ran- 
goon to Toungoo ; besides, it was shortly — 
as was then supposed — to be continued to 
Bhamo and was, on the other hand to serve 
as ** a base for future lines connecting the 
Shan States/' Other valleys, those of the 
rivers Mu and Chindwin, important tributa- 
ries of the Irrawaddy, and like it only ca- 
pable of irregular navigation during the dry 
season; those too of Hokong and Mogaung 
beyond Bhamo, impatiently awaited their lines 
of railway. Lastly, further lines were pro- 
jected, of commercial or political interest : 
such as the lines which were to connect 
Mandalay with the Salwen, Burma with Assam 
(with a station at Makum), and so on to the 
Brahmaputra (with a station at Sudiya). 

The results attained could not but hasten 
the execution of the other projects then 
under consideration, which were all of great 
magnitude and importance. 



China and the European Powers — Evolution of Eu- 
ropean policy within the last thirty years — - 
Occupation of the countries bordering on China 
— Tongking and Burma — The Red River ^ and 
the rivers of Burma — The Burmano-Ckinese 
Railways — Hypotheses upon which they are 
based — Value of these hypotheses ; various traces ; 
their practicability — Projects of the Government 
of India — A land-route ; treaty concluded with 
the Kachinese — A railroad. 

The conquest and commercial exploitation 
of Burma are not the final aim of British 
ambition. Burma is not merely, so to speak, 
a point of arrival ; she is also a place of 
passage. Her boundaries are conterminous 
with those of India and China; she guards 
the approach to the former, and is appar- 
ently a means of access to the latter. In 
the conquest of Burma the British thought they 
had actually provided India with a new bulwark 
of defence and at the same time obtained 


possession of one of the gates of China, ^ 
though the question still had to be faced: 
how to open it? 

For the last fifty years and more, China 
has constituted one of the aims of the great 
European powers in the Far East. Doubtless 
not one of them at the present moment 
threatens the integrity of her territory; but 
they are one and all eager to have a share 
in her commerce, and to develop the im- 
mense natural resources which she allows to 
lie dormant. They therefore endeavour to 
obtain access to her territory for their en- 
gineers and manufacturers, as they have 
already succeeded in doing for their mer- 
chants in many of her ports. They are 
anxious to remodel her equipment and her 
methods, and to induce her to tread with 
them the paths of Western civilisation; and 
although China is self-satisfied and suspi- 
cious of foreigners — convinced as she very 
rightly is that contact with the West will 
prove fatal to her — their aim would assur- 
edly have long ago been attained, had they 

* "I may observe," wrote Yule in 1857, "that the 
missionaries in Yunnan receive their remittances by way 
of Amarapura." (Op. cit., p. 145). Since that time, how- 
ever, remittances of money have undoubtedly been for- 
warded to the province of Si-Chuan, and probably also, 
to that of Yunnan by way of the Yang-tse-kiang. (Cf. 
Seize anndes en Chine, lettres du P, Clerc, 1887, Haton, 


not during the last thirty years, abandoned 
the time-honoured policy which had pre- 
viously been so successful in its results. 

During the centuries which have preceded 
ours, and up to the year i860 or there- 
abouts, the European Governments, what- 
ever their enmities in Europe, had always 
acted in strict concert in their dealings with 
China. If any European nation encountered 
any difficulty, or claimed any reparation: 
her grievance or her claim became the claim 
or grievance of all the others. The entente 
was, indeed, easy to maintain at that time. 
Only four nations : France, Great Britain, 
Russia, and the United States had interests 
in China, and these interests were in each 
case of a different nature. After i860, and 
more especially 1870, circumstances were 
altered. First Germany, then Italy, followed 
by other nations, appeared on the scene. 
They were all absorbed in their own mate- 
rial interests. All were now represented by 
their ambassadors at Pekin, instead of^ as 
hitherto, by their consuls at the various ports. 
National animosities, the rivalry of individuals 
and in a still greater degree, industrial and 
commercial competition combined to sever the 
bond of union: ever since they have shown 
the Chinese, who suspected as much, that, 
so far as Europeans in the Far East are con- 
cerned, Europe is no longer a united country. 


It was thought that the time was approach- 
ing when China would emerge from her long 
period of immobility, and by entering into 
competition with Western nations arm her- 
self for this colossal duel. No apprehension 
was felt lest this duel should one day prove 
fatal to Europe. The mere prospect of all 
the railways, telegraphs, factories, and arse- 
nals for which this gigantic customer would 
give orders turned the heads of all. Instead 
of sharing this unexpected windfall like good- 
natured thieves, each nation was anxious to 
reap the exclusive advantage herself, and 
became quite modest in her pretensions 
Germany, moved by ambition for her manu- 
facturers, would not undertake anything which 
might set the Chinese against Herr Krupp. 
Great Britain^ in her solicitude for her citi- 
zens settled in China: bankers, merchants, 
insurance agents, etc., silently waived her 
most legitimate demands. Whereas China 
remained equally hostile to all nationalities, 
and hated equally, under the generic term 
of Europeans, Englishmen, Russians, French- 
men, or Italians; the Europeans themselves 
were divided and split up. 

In politics there were petty treacheries; 
in business, sales at reduced rates, and some- 
times contracts at a loss. The Chinese let 
them say and do what they pleased, and 
accepted what was beneficial to themselves, 


but refrained from establishing a connection 
with any one, from entering into large en- 
terprises, and from throwing . open their 
country to Europeans or to European capi- 
tal. At this game the nations all lost rapidly 
both their influence and respect. Even Rus- 
sia once so feared, and who, as lately as 
1 88 1, had wrested important concessions 
from China, became aware that her influence 
was diminishing. And accurate observers are 
now doubtful as to which of the two nations 
inspires her rival with fear. 

In this state of affairs, each nation con- 
soles herself for her own losses by the losses 
of the other nations. 

Certain Powers, however, actuated by 
more prudential motives, decided to have 
recourse to other means, which they believed 
would accelerate the desired solution. They 
sought out from among the countries bor- 
dering on China those whence relations might, 
without too great difficulty, be established 
with the province contiguous to the Empire. 
To this province they would obtain access ; 
they would bring right up to its boundaries 
their railway and telegraph lines, their postal 
and transport services, their bazaars and 
markets; they would prove to it what the 
science, the laws, and the organisation of 
the Western barbarians could effect for the 
prosperity of peoples ; they would enrich the 


inhabitants of its nearest districts ; they would 
win them over to the use of our customs 
and our inventions; they would make them 
— well pleased with their own benefits and 
satisfied — missionaries who would sing our 
praises to their compatriots; one after an- 
other they would proselytise the districts 
and provinces, and when in course of time 
the Empire, yielding to the force of example, 
decided on receiving our products and imi- 
tating our methods, they would be the first 
to gain admittance to her territory, and to 
"take orders." It was in this hope that the 
British established themselves in Burma, the 
French in Tongking and the Germans beat 
about Siam. 

The frontier of Burma, like that of Tong- 
king, is parallel for a long distance with 
that of the province of Yunnan. Tongking 
borders, further, in the north and north-west, 
on the two provinces of Quang-Si and Quang- 
Tung. Burma possesses several rivers which 
take their rise in China : the Irrawaddy, the 
Sittang, the Salwen; Tongking has, strictly 
speaking, but one river, the famous Red River. 

This is not the place to speak of the Red 
River, or to compare it, as a means of gaining 
access to China, with those of Burma. Besides 
which, such a comparison would now be super- 
fluous; the Red River has won. Steamers, 
which have been perfectly adapted to the re- 


quirements, ascend the river as far as Laokai 
on the Chinese frontier, and all that remains 
for us to do is to afford every facility to 
navigation by improving, at a moderate cost, 
the channel of the river; and to commerce 
by repudiating — not by surreptitious and seem- 
ingly secret resolutions, but by a solemn and 
widely proclaimed law — the troublesome re- 
gime of customs' duties which bars the Tong- 
king route to European transactions with 
Western China. The rivers of Burma, on 
the contrary, are, as I have already said, of 
infinitely greater length than those ofTong- 
king, and offer insurmountable obstacles before 
reaching the Chinese frontier. The British 
themselves appear to have decisively com- 
demned them, and are now, with a view to 
a nearer approach to, if not to an entry into 
China^ engaged in making preliminary surveys 
of various lines of railway. 

Amongst these surveys a marked distinc- 
tion must be made between those which are 
either controlled, or even ordered, by the 
State, and those which aim at the very heart 
of the Empire, and are the outcome of pure- 
ly private enterprise. Of the latter there 
has, indeed, been a perfect deluge. Long 
before the annexation of Upper Burma, ex- 
plorers, engineers, former Indian officials, 
veritable commercial travellers in railways, 
started both in England and in the Far East 


weekly recurring plans for some new line, 
which at at less cost than any of the others 
would invariably place China, and sometimes 
Siam also, literally within the grasp of the 
British. Their starting-point, would be either 
Rangoon, Maulmain, or Mandalay, and passing 
through Tali-fu or Semao, their terminus would 
be either at Bangkok, Canton, Yunnan-fu, 
Nanking or some other town of equal im- 
portance. Their object was to divert to 
Burma the traffic which had hitherto taken 
the route of the Mekong, the Red River, the 
Canton and especially the Yang-tse-kiang, 
rivers; and in the magnificent prospectuses 
which depicted their probable future, this 
object was invariably attained. 

The most famous, perhaps, of these pro- 
jected lines was that from Maulmain to 
Chung-king, on the Yang-tse-kiang. As this 
river has a very strong current which renders 
its ascent very tedious and expensive^ people 
flattered — and still flatter — themselves that 
the European import-trade with the interior 
of China would desert it in favour of the 
railway starting from Burma and terminating 
at Chung-king. The descent of the river, 
on the contrary, though perilous, is rapid and 
comparatively inexpensive. It was therefore 
probable that all the provinces through which 
this river flows would continue, even after 
the railway had been opened, to use it as a 


means of transport for their products to the 
east coast, and thence to Europe. This 
probable distribution of the traffic would still 
leave a very remunerative share to the Bur- 
mano-Chinese railway. 

But it is doubtful whether the course ot 
events would coincide exactly with the anti- 
cipations of its promoters; not to mention 
the enormous expense which would be in- 
curred. The entire plan is based upon two 
hypotheses : the first, that China will sanction 
the construction of a railway on her territory ; 
the second, that for a long time to come, at 
all events, she will not sanction the construc- 
tion of more than one railway. But both 
these hypotheses are open to discussion. 

That China may consent to the construc- 
tion of a railway, is not impossible ; and yet 
this may not occur in the near future. The 
example of the short line from Woosung to 
Shanghai, which was destroyed as soon as 
constructed, and transported to Formosa, 
where the pile of materiel is being swallowed 
up piecemeal by the sea — this recent exam- 
ple is not very encouraging. As a contrast 
to the above, I may instance the line, which 
is also a very short one, connecting Tientsin 
with the Kaiping coal-mines, and which has 
not hitherto been menaced ; but in the latter 
instance it must be borne in mind that 
powerful personages, among others Li-Hung- 


Chang, were interested in its construction, 
and are also interested in its maintenance. 
Now, as regards the proposed line, on the 
contrary, many people are opposed to 
its construction. Not to quote too long a 
list, I shall merely mention the Mandarins 
of the provinces through which the line would 
run, and further the British, or rather Euro- 
pean residents of Eastern and South-Eastern 
China, particularly those of the communities 
of Shanghai, Hongkong, and all the open ports. 
The Mandarins of these provinces, above 
all, dread the introduction of the system of 
communications in vogue in Europe — tele- 
graphs and railways — which by facilitating 
transmission of orders, and the exercise of 
control, would deprive them of their author- 
itative independence. Accordingly, whilst 
refraining from any personal protest against 
projected public works, they have invariably 
endeavoured to obstruct even preliminary 
surveys by exciting popular prejudice,^ and 
stirring up the people both against the pro- 
jects, and the Europeans who advocated 
them.^ The persecutions of the Christians 

* Read the numberless accounts given by travellers 
of the Feng-chui (the anger of the wind and the water). 

^ And this is no mere idle talk. In iSSg the Hongkong 
and Shanghai Bank obtained a concession for a line 
running from Tientsin to Trong-Chow. The decree was 
signed, and the capital subscribed. Then such a for- 
midable opposition arose that it was thought impossible 


are actuated by similar feelings : in many 
cases the hatred of the Christian religion is 
less than that of Western civilisation. 

As to the British communities in the Far 
East, seeing that the diversion of any por- 
tion of the traffic to Burma represents a 
loss for them, they cannot but be opposed 
to all these lines of railway. Of this there 
can be no manner of doubt, and it has been 
noticed that in no quarter have these vari- 
ous projects been criticised with greater 
acrimony and pertinacity than by the Anglo- 
Chinese newspapers circulating in these com- 
munities. The opposition of two such weighty 
elements is a primary and very potent cause 
of failure : but there is also another. 

It is taken for granted that should China 
consent to the construction of a railway, the 
first one sanctioned by her would be pre- 

to proceed with it. The Government consulted the 
provincial Governors as to the utility of railways. The 
most influential replied that they would undoubtedly 
prove advantageous, but that they must be constructed 
with the resources of the country, and without the inter- 
vention of foreigners. Under these circumstances rail- 
ways were an impossibility. The Mandarins were aware 
of this, and desired it. The Central Government thought 
otherwise. On this occasion, indeed, the Viceroy of the 
two Quangs, the famous Cheng, who had most clearly 
enunciated this opinion, was removed, sent to the prov- 
ince of Hu-Pe, and ordered to construct, at his own 
expense, the line from Hankow to Lu-Ko-Tsiao, near 


cisely the Chung-king line, running through 
the provinces of Yunnan and Se-Chuen ; 
and that when this railway was once com- 
pleted she would not for a long time to come 
suffer other lines to be constructed. This 
is a gratuitous and irrational supposition. 
A country so vast in its proportions admits 
of several systems of railways : it could not 
possibly be tapped from one side only. 
Even assuming the hypotheses most favour- 
able to the Burmano-Chinese railway, it is 
obvious that an onslaught on the main part 
of Central China must be anticipated from 
two or three other sides : on the east, the 
south-east, and the south. China, when once 
the first step was taken, would not refuse 
to take another. When she had sanctioned 
a railway partaking in some measure of an 
international character, she would not oppose, 
but rather encourage, lines which were really 
national ones.V And there would be no 
lack of capital. The Chinese, those success- 
ful and clever traders, would themselves sub- 
scribe all that was required; whilst the 
European and British colonies of Shanghai, 
Hongkong, and other open ports would make 
spontaneous offers, undeterred by any fear 

* The first line of railway which the Chinese have 
thought of, is from Hankow, across the plains, to the 


of entering into competition with their fellow- 
countrymen in Burma. 

Hence, for the present at all events, too 
great importance must not be attached to 
these projects of gigantic Burmano-Chinese 
railways, running from Rangoon or Maulmain 
to Canton or Chung-king. 

On the other hand, the railways merely 
reaching, and not crossing over the Chinese 
frontier are quite another matter. 

The first proposal of a railway to the 
Chinese frontier dates from thirty years back. 
In 1 86 1 Sir Arthur Phayre, the first Chief 
Commissioner of Burma, recommended a 
preliminary survey of a line in the direction 
of Kiang-hung. In 1 866 Lord Salisbury, then 
Viscount Cranborne, requested the Govern- 
ment of India which displayed no great con- 
cern about the matter, to have a survey 
made of a railway extending as far as the 
Chinese frontier. In 1869 the Duke of Ar- 
gyll, and in 1874 Lord Salisbury for the 
second time insisted on this project. Finally, 
many others, travellers or officials, had orig- 
inated various more or less elaborate, and 
practical plans. It was not, however, until 
1882 that, at the instance of the explorer 
Colquhoun, a survey — although a summary 
one — was made of the country in order to 
determine whether it would be possible to 
construct a railway connecting Burma and 


China. Since 1882 this idea has never been 
relinquished ;^ but the proposed lines of route 
have varied considerably. 

I shall proceed to indicate the lines of 
route which have found most favour, regard- 
less of their chronological order. Nearly all 
of them, in view of the eventualities to which 
I have referred, admit of two terminal points : 
one on the Chinese frontier or in its imme- 
diate vicinity ; the other, on Chinese territory, 
at a greater or less distance from the Bur- 
mese frontier. 

An earlier trace starts from Mandalay, as- 
cends the Irrawaddy as far as Bhamo and 
thence taking a bend to the north-east crosses 
the Chinese frontier, and terminates at Mo- 
mein. From Momein it extends in a north- 
easterly direction to Tali-fu, or else eastward 
to Yung-chang, and thence on to Yunnan-fu. 
This trace which has long been regarded 
with favour, and a portion of which will 
probably be adopted later, has at present 
been entirely abandoned. . Several travellers, 
among whom may be specially mentioned 
those of the Grosvenor mission, and Mr. Col- 
quhoun, have explored the country which it 
traverses, and consider it impracticable. The 

' See the numerous letters of encouragement addressed 
by British Chambers of Commerce to the engineers and 
the Government; especially the letter of the Blackburn 
Chamber of Commerce, of the 8th February, 1892. 


following is what Mr. Colborne Baber, Inter- 
preter and Secretary to the British Embassy 
at Pekin, and a member of the Grosvenor 
mission, says concerning it : "It seems chi- 
merical to suppose that this route could be 
rendered practicable for wheel-traffic. The 
valleys or, rather, the chasms of the Salwen 
and the Mekong, not to mention other ob- 
stacles, offer difficulties which will undoubt- 
edly prove insurmountable for a long time 
to come. By cutting half-a-dozen tunnels 
like that of Mont Cenis, by constructing a 
few bridges like that over the Menai Straits, 
the route from Burma to Yunnan-fu might 
doubtless be much improved.'' We may 
add that the line would traverse mountain- 
ous regions which are barren and uninhab- 

A second trace starts from Hlaindet on 
the line which runs from Rangoon to Man- 
dalay, descends in a south-easterly direction 
to Mone, crosses the Salwen at Tacaw Ferry, 
and passes through Kiang-tung and Kiang- 
hung. Kiang-hung is but a short distance 
from the Chinese village of Semao. This 
trace passes through an exceedingly moun- 
tainous country. Between Hlaindet and Mone, 
there are no less than four defiles, one of 
which is 4,900 feet above sea-level. Beyond 
Mone three chains of mountains are crossed, 
then a descent is made to Tacaw Ferry 



(870 feet above sea-level) where the Salwen 
is 800 feet wide. Between Tacaw Ferry 
and Kiang-tung there are four more moun- 
tain-chains, varying in altitude from 4,000 to 
6,500 feet, and, lastly, from Kiang-tung to 
Kiang-hung, a continuous incline with a total 
fall of 4,000 feet. 

The enormous difficulties which these 
traces would offer, led Messrs. Colquhoun and 
Hallett to seek another route across a coun- 
try with fewer obstacles. Their projected 
line starts from Maulmain, the second port 
of Burma, on the Gulf of Martaban, not far 
from the mouth of the Salwen, and thence 
passes successively Myawaddy, Rahaing on 
the Mei-Ping, Lakon, and Kiang-sen on the 
Mekong. On leaving Kiang-sen it follows 
the course of the river at a short distance 
from it, and reaches Kiang-hung, the termi- 
nus of the preceding route. This proposal, 
which is still favourably regarded, has the ad- 
vantage of being shorter than the others, 
and of traversing a line ot country with 
somewhat less steep inclines. The altitude 
of Rahaing is 377 feet; that of Lakon, 763; 
of Kiang-sen, i ,097 ; and, lastly, of Kiang- 
hung, about 2,000 feet. These advantages 
are counterbalanced by the inconvenience 
arising from the fact that none of the al- 
ready existing lines are made use of, and 
that a considerable length of the line en- 


croaches upon Siamese territory. In the 
latter respect it is inferior to the other 
routes which traverse exclusively Burmese 

From this point of view it comprises four 
sections ; two on Burmese, and two on Sia- 
mese territory, in the following succession : 
Maulmain to Myawaddy, Burmese territory; 
Myawaddy to Rahaing, Siamese territory; 
Rahaing to Kiang-sen, Siamese territory; 
Kiang-sen to the Chinese frontier, Burmese 
territory. The two Burmese, or rather Brit- 
ish sections would measure : from Maulmain 
to Myawaddy, 80 miles; from Kiang-sen to 
the Chinese frontier, 240 miles; the two 
Siamese sections w^ould measure : from Mya- 
waddy to Rahaing, 88 miles; from Rahaing 
to Kiang-sen, 250; that is, a total of 320 
miles for the British, and 338 for the Siamese 
sections. The probable cost would amount, 
for the British sections, to. ;^2, 500,000; for 
the Siamese sections, to ;^2, 200,000, making 
a total, in round numbers, of ;^ 5, 000,000. 

This is a very high figure, and there is 
nothing to prove that it would not be exceeded. 
Mr. Holt Hallett has been unable to devote 
more than a very brief study to the matter ; 
more accurate calculations will probably prove 
that this estimate would be exceeded by one- 
third to one-half, or perhaps still more. 
Even assuming its accuracy, this enormous 


sum constitutes ' a new and very serious ob- 
stacle to a proposal which is otherwise well- 
planned. It is, indeed, questionable whether 
the Siamese would consent to construct, or 
merely to subsidise a line which would be of 
infinitely less use to them than to the British. 
'Tis true, they are inclined to adopt European 
inventions; but in the very complete list of their 
own proposed railways recently compiled by 
Captain Jones, British Consul-General at Bang- 
kok, this one does not figure.^ 

I may add that the British pubUc has 
itself displayed considerable disapproval of a 
line which would not run entirely through 
British territory; consequently Mr. Holt 
Hallett recently found himself obliged to 
modify his trace, and to take his projected 
line of railway through Burma and the Shan 

However^ the Government of India has not 
thought fit to adopt the trace of Messrs. 
Colquhoun and Hallett; but has fallen back 
upon an already existing roadway which has 
long been in use, and is considering a railway 
which would traverse Burmese territory 
throughout, and would utilise existing lines 
for part of its length. 

' See this list, which is given almost in extenso in the 
interesting and accurate brochure by Captain Devrez, 
Les Grandes Votes commerciales du Tonkiuy Paris^ La- 
vauzelle, i89i. 


The route in question is that leading from 
Bhamo to Tali-fu. It is called the ** ambas- 
sadors' road/' being that which the Burmese 
ambassadors were accustomed to take when 
they went to China to pay tribute; it had 
also for a long period been the route of 
commerce. This has, however, no longer 
been the case for several years past : trade 
was dull, and the merchants, who by reason 
of their diminished number were less capable 
of resistance, were systematically plundered 
by a robber-tribe called the Katchinese, and 
preferred to give up their trading expeditions 
altogether. This state of affairs roused the 
British to action, and they had recourse to 
an expedient which they had already adopt- 
ed with success elsewhere. Plunder is, in- 
deed, a customary occupation of the Kat- 
chinese. Whether it be a merchant-traveller, 
or a peasant-agriculturist, all are fish that 
come to their net. They had, as we have 
seen, taken to raiding the peaceable inhabit- 
ants of the valleys at the foot of their 
mountains, and the Government of India 
only succeeded in restoring peace by send- 
ing Captain Raikes to negotiate with their 
chiefs. A second mission was sent to re- 
open the Yunnan route to traders. At the 
beginning of 1 890 the Katchinese, after having 
for some time been subjected to considerable 
pressure, entered into an agreement to de- 


sist from molesting the traders, to leave the 
road open to them, and even to keep it in 
good repair. In return, the British Govern- 
ment undertook to levy a fixed contribution 
on the merchants, and to distribute the 
amount thus obtained annually amongst the 
associated chiefs. Thanks to this singular 
agreement, which is quite in accordance with 
the customs of the country, the route has 
been re-opened to trade, and business relations 
between China and Burma are re-established. 
But this road is, as may be imagined, a 
somewhat primitive means of communication, 
and one which can give but little impetus to 
trade. Consequently, the Government con- 
templates constructing a line of railway at 
a more or less distant date. This line, which 
is, however, by no means a novel idea, having 
been adversely criticised by Mr. Colquhoun 
himself as far back as 1884, would start 
from Mandalay, and make for Theebaw; 
thence ascending the valley of the Myitnge 
it would proceed to Theinnee, and reach 
the Salwen at Kunlon Ferry. The Salwen 
constitutes a limit beyond which the British 
Government for many reasons does not as 
yet wish to risk its capital. Provisionally, 
then, the line would stop at this point. 
When the day comes on which an entry 
into China can be effected, the Salwen would 
be crossed, the line be continued upwards 


along the course of the river Nanting as far 
as Sunnig-fu (lOO** long., 24^40' lat.) and 
thence to Yunnan-fu. 

This line, according to the present plan, 
that is, extending from Mandalay to Kunlon 
Ferry, would have a length of from 260 to 
265 miles, and would cost about 30 millions 
of rupees. It is considered practicable. 
Both engineers and non-professional men 
are of this opinion. Mr. William Sheriff, who 
was commissioned by the Rangoon Chamber 
of Commerce to report on the project, for- 
mally declared at a meeting of the Society 
of Arts of that town, that he had met with 
no serious obstacle. According to him there 
would be no greater incline than i in 40. 
Lord Lamington, who has lately travelled in 
the Indo-Chinese Peninsula^ holds the same 
view. Yet even the official plans indicate 
slopes of 4,000 feet, and mention as a seri- 
ous obstacle a famous gorge named Gokteck 
or Gotkeik. The department of the Liver- 
pool Chamber of Commerce which deals 
with Chinese and Indian affairs declares that 
''the difficulties connected with the construc- 
tion of this railway are enormous.'' Lastly, 
Mr. Colquhoun in his comparison of possible 
traces refers to the opinion of Doctor Wil- 
Ham, author of ''Through Burma to Western 
China,'' which is by no means reassuring. "I 
hold the passes (of the Shan plateaux)," he 


says, "to be impracticable either for a rail- 
way or a tramway. In 1861, when crossing 
the mountains whence the road to Theinnee 
debouches, I had to pass along footpaths 
situated at an altitude of 5,000 feet above 
the river-level. I have ascended and redes- 
cended the sides of the mountain in this 
neighbourhood by four different routes : every 
one of them was precipitous, and not only 
impracticable at the present moment, but — 
as far as can be judged without technical 
experience — impossible to render practicable 
for any description of railway or tramway, 
without an expenditure which would by far 
exceed what could be reasonably devoted 
to the attainment of this object.'' Be this 
as it may, the Government of India has had 
a preliminary survey made of this trace, and 
its engineers have declared it to be practicable. 
It has not, however, as yet sanctioned the line, 
nor ordered the works to be commenced. 

Such are the principal lines which have 
attracted the attention of the Government of 
India or of capitalists. 

The realisation of the majority of them 
can scarcely be said to be as yet within 
measurable distance.^ 

' I may add that the majority of the lines which aim 
at penetrating into China pass through Semao. If we 
were so minded, we could be at Semao before anybody 
else. Consult the map of China and Anam. 



The principles of financial organisation — India and 
Great Britain; Tonking and France — The Com- 
parative independence of India — Its consequences 
— Influence on politics, and on commerce — Trade 
of Burma — Share accruing to Great Britain — 

Preliminary surveys and the planning of 
new lines of railway are easy matters compared 
with the much harder task of finding the money 
for their execution ; and the British in Upper 
Burma have from the very commencement 
been beset by financial difficulties, as the 
French have also been in Tongking. The 
two countries do not, however, admit of a 
very exact comparison. They so far resem- 
ble one another that neither has a revenue 
sufficient to cover an expenditure which in 
both cases is cut down to as low a figure 
as possible, and that Tongking, should it re- 
quire supplementary resources, applies to the 


French Government, whilst Burma in a simi- 
lar case applies to the Government of India. 

I have already had occasion to point out, 
but it will bear repetition, that India is not 
one of the ordinary class of colonies, but a 
Viceroyalty. India is an organism indepen- 
dent of the mother country; she has a se- 
parate existence and, though subject to the 
control of the Home Government, enjoys per- 
fect liberty in the conduct of her interior 
and exterior policy. Her independence is 
subject to the condition that she hamper 
neither the policy, nor — what might prob- 
ably be more to be apprehended — the fi- 
nances of Great Britain. Like all rich and 
organised countries, India possesses two 
sources of supply : taxes and loans. Within 
the limits of her resources, and provided 
she makes no improper use of either, she is 
free to fix the amount of her expenditure 
pretty much as she pleases. And the con- 
sequences thereof to her are important : I 
shall mention one only. 

In an ordinary colony there is what one 
might term a gulf fixed between the con- 
ception and realisation of a plan. Let us 
suppose that it is desired to construct a net- 
work of railways in Tonking. The Governor 
requests the Director of Public Works to 
draw up a plan. This plan is forwarded to 
the Under Secretary of State in Paris, and 


he has it examined in his offices. But his 
subordinates though competent to criticise 
matters of a political, commercial or finan- 
cial nature, are not competent critics of the 
science of engineering. Consequently, this 
portion of the project is referred to the Su- 
perior Council of the Civil Engineering De- 
partment, or possibly to a Special Commis- 
sion, which will be sure to introduce amend- 
ment. In due course it is returned to the 
local Board for '* supplementary study." 
Meanwhile, however, the opportunity has slip- 
ped away ; the responsible author of the 
original plan has been replaced by a new 
engineer who regards matters from a different 
stand-point to that of his predecessor, the 
Council, or the Commission; he prepares a 
plan which, after a long interval^ will perhaps 
go through a similar course of scrutiny. 
Let us suppose that at length a decision is 
arrived at : there then remains the question 
of money. In the colonies, as elsewhere, 
railways are not, as a rule, constructed with 
budget-surpluses, but by loans contracted for 
the purpose, or subsidies granted by the 
Home Government. In the latter case the 
matter comes before Parliament, which in its 
turn scrutinises a project which the Civil 
Service has already subjected to a twofold 
scrutiny, and so the chapter of adventures of 
this unfortunate scheme begins afresh. It is 


lucky indeed if the discussion turns, not upon 
the trace, but the principle of the railway. 
Thus, unless the Governor is a man whose 
opinion carries weight, the Secretary of State 
for the Colonies firm, and the Parliamentary 
Commission favourably disposed to the pro- 
ject, the debate thereon will be frequently 
adjourned, and Tongking will remain without 
its railway. 

India, on the contrary, with her almost 
autonomous Civil Service, her independent 
exchequer, her well-nigh all-powerful Govern- 
ment, has scarcely any other impediments to 
contend with than those attributable to her 
own caution, and it may be said without 
exaggeration that this caution has at times 
retarded her action to a greater extent than 
the Home Government would have wished. 
If it is a question of digging a canal, or of 
constructing a railway: the Government of 
India can proceed with the survey and even 
with the preliminary works, well-assured that 
it will have no difficulty in obtaining sanction 
to a well-devised scheme. We were able to 
instance a case in point in the course of the 
present essay, viz., that of the railway from 
Toungoo to Mandalay. 

Now the Home Government has its rea- 
sons for being so lenient. They are not 
hard to guess. 

One is, that the Government of India, 


being in a position to study the various 
problems on the spot, and having at its dis- 
posal first-rate political and technical advis- 
ers, inspires the Home Government in every 
case, if not with absolute confidence, with 
as much and even more confidence, than 
any other consultative body which it could 
assemble in England. The other reason, 
perhaps a less weighty, but, it must be con- 
fessed, a more decisive one, is that the 
Government of India^ when applying for its 
sanction, does not usually make any appeal 
for pecuniary aid, which obviates the neces- 
sity of laying the matter before Parliament. 
The Cabinet is therefore at liberty to judge 
the project on its own intrinsic merits, and 
without reference to any difficulties which 
might thereby be created for its home 

This good understanding between the two 
Governments, which is also manifested in 
other matters besides Public Works, gives 
the policy of India wonderful security and 
elasticity. India, being thus, by virtue of 
her financial autonomy, mistress of her 
actions, occupies an exalted position, and 
owes her greatness partly to her skill in 
taking advantage of opportunities which others 
have let slip, and partly to the ability to do 
what has to be done at the right moment. 
Therefore, all Frenchmen who have studied 


her history cannot but envy her favourable 
position, and long for the time when our 
Indo-Chinese possessions will be in a similar 
state of semi-independence in regard to the 
Home Government, which is a necessary con- 
dition for their future greatness. But a 
similar position requires, in the first instance, 
prosperous or, at all events, elastic finances : 
it is for this reason that the British Govern- 
ment and the Government of India have, as 
far as their policy permitted it, taken such 
pains in all the provinces of India, and 
particularly in Burma, to provide them- 
selves with the means of improving local 

I cannot enter into details respecting the 
revenue. I will merely say a word as to its 

Commerce is — in the earlier period of 
colonisation — the source of all wealth: con- 
sequently commerce will be regarded with 
favour; it will be allowed special facilities 
and entire freedom of action. By so doing, 
the colonists will amass wealth, and the 
receipts of the Treasury will be augmented. 
But, however great the need of funds, the 
receipts must not be augmented at all hazards. 
An over-exacting Treasury makes untract- 
able rate-payers. The demands made must 
be moderate, and should this liberality in 
conjunction with an impoverished exchequer 


lead to a deficit, it must be borne with re- 
signation: the present is but the seed-time; 
the harvest when it comes, will repay all the 
trouble, and all the sacrifices. 

This method which is so simple, so 
logical, and yet so rarely adopted, has, 
under British auspices, quite equalled ex- 

The trade of Burma, liberally equipped, 
affords evidence of progressive increase. In 
1 886- 1 887, just after the annexation and 
while the insurrection was yet at its height, 
it amounted to ;^i 3, 120,000; it increased in 
1887-1888 to ^15,320,000; in 1888-1889, to 
^14,040,000; in 1889-1890, to / 1 5,760,000; 
and in 1 890-1 891, to ^17,960,000. That is, 
not counting the exceptional year 1886- 1887, 
an increase of 14 per cent in three years. 
And our (French) consul at Rangoon, M. 
Pilinsky, removes all doubt as to the cause 
of this increase: '^Business with Upper 
Burma,'' he says, ^*was almost at a stand- 
still .... But since 1887 the country has 
been gradually pacified ; the peasants, a large 
proportion of whom had abandoned their 
villages^ returned to them^ and devoted them- 
selves to agriculture; and business, which 
had sustained a momentary check, was re- 
sumed with increased activity." 

The figures which I have just quoted re- 
present the entire export-trade of Burma, 


i, e,^ the exports to Great Britain as well as 
those to other countries. It is a curious 
fact^ and contrary to the generally received 
opinion, that the share of Great Britain in 
this trade is not a very large one. The 
imports from Burma into Great Britain were 
in 1886-1887 /2, 120,000; in 1887-1888, 
;^ 1, 5 60,000; in 1 888- 1 889, / 1, 400,000; and 
in 1 889-1 890, ^2,280,000. The exports 
from Great Britain to Burma were in 1886- 
1887, ;^i,400,ooo; 1887-1888, /2, 320.000; 
in 1 888- 1 889, ;^2, 080,000; and, lastly, in 
1 889- 1 890, ;^ 1, 880,000; this gives a total of 
;^3, 480,000 for 1 886- 1 887 out of;^ 13, 120,000; 
and for 1889- 1890, of ;^4, 160,000 out of 
;^ 1 4,040,000. The proportion is not favour- 
able to Great Britain. In spite of this, how- 
ever, there is no question of applying to 
Burma a so-called protective tariff, which 
would ruin that country without adding to 
the wealth of the mother country. 

In the revenue returns, as in those of 
commerce, there is also evidence of progress. 
In 1 886- 1 887 the revenue derived from 
Upper Burma alone amounted to Rs. 2, 224,980; 
this amount rose in 1887- 1888 to Rs. 
5,016,360; in 1888-1889, to Rs.7,345,430; 
and in 1889- 1890, to Rs. 10, 103, 150. This 
progressive increase is a good omen ; it does 
not, however, suffice to balance the budget. 
Since 1886 the annual deficit has been 


from 8 to 12 millions of rupees.^ This 
state of affairs, however, occasions no anx- 
iety to the Government of India, nor does 
the Imperial Parliament demand the evacu- 
ation of the country: they are both aware 
that a young colony does not pay its ex- 
penses ; successive Viceroys, from Lord Dal- 
housie in 1852, have foreseen the deficit, 
and, bearing in mind the present financial 
position of Lower Burma as contrasted with 
former days, they have been content to 
quietly await the course of events. 

' No great reliance can be placed on any of these 
figures. The statistics given in English, and Indian 
official records do not correspond. 




Results of British Administration — Lessons which the 
French may learn therefrom — The method^ and 
its expedients — A rational plan: races; laws; 
officials; public safety; material and intellectual 
equipment — Colonisation, 

A flourishing trade; finances based upon 
an admirable system, but nevertheless still 
inadequate to the country's requirements and 
likely to remain so for several years to come ; 
the administrative machinery erected on the 
solid foundation of good laws, and good of- 
ficials, but yet occasionally thrown out of 
gear by frictions, and liable to jerky action ; 
lastly, pacification and security increasing 
steadily day by day, but still disturbed from 
time to time by rude awakenings, and even 
successful outbreaks of the spirit of revolt: 
such is, briefly stated, the balance-sheet of 
British occupation in Burma at the end of 
six years. 

I fear it will appear rather a poor one. 


Its apparent mediocrity will cause a certain 
amount of exultation among those whose 
slumbers are disturbed by the thought of 
Burma, and will evoke a smile of pity from 
others, who cannot brook the idea of taking 
a lesson from the British school. The actual 
disproportion between these results and the 
means employed for their attainment will 
create some misgivings in the minds of those 
who had augured marvellous results from Brit- 
ish sagacity and skill. 

The latter circumstance seems to me the 
worst of all. 

There is a certain class of novel-readers to 
whom a logical sequence of events is the 
supreme desideratum. They wish the char- 
acters presented in the volume to remain 
throughout rigidly congealed in the form 
which they assumed at the commencement. 
If at the commencement they are virtuous, 
virtuous they must remain to the end; they 
will not tolerate even a momentary relaxa- 
tion of their uncompromising virtue. In like 
manner they cannot suffer clever people to 
make a mistake or prudent people to commit 
an imprudence. And if by a mishap excellent 
means should fail in bringing about the desired 
effect they condemn them thenceforth as use- 

Novel-readers of this class are unfortu- 
nately also to be met with in politics. 


But such is not life. Human beings and 
events do not display unvarying sameness 
or automatic precision; at any moment cir- 
cumstances may occur which will upset the 
best laid plans. Though the British, notwith- 
standing their persistent efforts to pacify 
Burma, and to develop its resources by 
Public Works and other means, have after 
six years not completed the pacification or 
ensured a steady development of the coun- 
try's resources, or established a perfect system 
of administration, this fact need not dis- 
concert us, nor shatter our faith in knowledge 
and prudence. The mediocrity of the results 
is no evidence against the method. 

But further. The supposition is allowed 
that with a less methodical procedure results 
apparently more brilliant might have been 
attained. But method is conscientious: it 
prescribes expedients, and scorns appearances. 
It connects the future with the present; it 
clears and levels the ground-plot before 
building upon it; in building the house it 
begins with the cellars, and not with the 
upper stories. This is slow, and costly; but 
it is durable. To the prejudiced eye the 
British in Burma may not appear much more 
advanced, than we ourselves are in Tonking. 
They are, however, infinitely more so. Their 
future prospects are assured. 

There is not a doubt of it, to my mind. 


Accordingly, now that I am on the point of 
concluding, I have no hesitation in saying : 
let us adapt the institutions of Burma to 

Let us adapt, but not adopt them bodily. 
For the two situations have nothing indenti- 
cal, nor even wholly comparable : there is no 
resemblance between them and us, Tongking 
and Burma, our Mandarins and their native 
officials, the Burmese and the Tonkinese, nor 
even between their Chinese and ours. The 
differences are assuredly obvious, and to many 
persons they, and they only, will be apparent. 
And yet several similarities obtrude them- 
selves, and the only danger is, lest too many 
should be discovered. Let us, then, not copy, 
but adapt. 

As I stated at the commencement of this 
work, the experience of the British in Burma 
admits of our evolving certain rules; which 
I shall now proceed to do. 

These rules applied to Tonking demand 
the fulfilment of the following conditions : 

I . — A knowledge should be acquired of the 
peoples whose destiny we have taken in 
hand. These peoples^ though inhabiting one 
and the same country, belong to different 
races and families. Not to mention number- 
less tribes, the offspring of untraceable inter- 
marriages, the Cambodians are one race, the 
Anamites, another ; the inhabitants of Cochin 


China are akin to those of Anam; it is un- 
certain whether or no the Tonkinese form 
a distinct race. On this point opinions differ : 
M. Harmand, M. Aymonnier, M. Sylvestre, 
the Governor-General, M. de Lannessan, 
Mgr. Puginier, all have (or had) their various 
opinions : the inhabitants of Anam, and 
Tongking must be studied from a historical, 
an ethnological, and a political point of view ; 
and it must be ascertained beyond a shadow 
of doubt whether they are one and the same 
nation, or whether their origin, their strug- 
gles, and their institutions do not render 
them two distinct and possibly even antag- 
onistic nations. 

2. — This question settled; the next matter 
of importance is, to give these peoples laws : 
by which I mean laws adapted to their re- 
quirements. Now, this is what the laws now 
in force in our Indo-Chinese possessions are 
not. Their own native laws do not cover 
sufficient ground now that they are connect- 
ed with us, and our French laws are still 
too advanced for them. They require laws 
which are more comprehensive than their 
own and certainly less complicated than 
ours. Neither the Anamite code — the col- 
lection and translation of which we owe to 
the prolific era of the Admiral-Governors of 
Cochin China, — nor the Code Napoleo7i can 
— applied separately — afford satisfaction or be 


adapted to their requirements : they want 
laws specially made for them, laws modelled 
in a great measure on their own native laws, 
but amplified, where necessary, in accordance 
with the principles, but not the provisions, 
of our Western legal codes. 

However, the time for codifying these 
laws has not yet arrived. This is a colossal 
task, and one requiring a multiplicity of 
precautions, and a vast amount of talent. 
In India the task was entrusted to such men 
as Lord Macaulay, and Sir Henry Summer 
Maine, who spent several years in merely 
collecting the materials. I am not aware 
whether we have such men at our disposal. 
In any case, I believe we do not yet possess 
such materials. Let us, then, confine our- 
selves for the present to restoring to the 
Anamites a portion of the laws which we 
have imprudently altered; and continuing 
the work of the La Grandieres, the Luros, 
etc., let us collect for future use the mate- 
rials for a code of native laws, which shall 
be worthy of a great nation. 

3. — But laws are not everything. Let 
us have officials and judges who know how 
to administer them. Let the mother country 
retain, or let us even restore to her, the 
executive and judicial officers whom she so 
lavishly bestows upon her colonies. Indo- 
China (like India) requires tried and well- 


trained otficials. For a brief period she 
possessed such ; let us renew the tradition. 
Let us institute competitive examinations 
such as I have described — this would be the 
more liberal plan, — or else keep up our 
Colonial College, which would be less com- 
plicated. But let us improve the latter. 
Let us transform it from a Colonial, into 
an Indo-Chinese school. Let us not throw 
it open to all comers, but only to those 
who have successfully passed a strict and 
honest competitive examination, certifying 
their intellectual and moral worth. Let us 
organise a practical course of study for a 
period of two years under efficient teachers ; 
let us guarantee the successful candidates 
honourable openings, and an assured career ; 
lastly, let us complete their education in the 
country of their destination, paying them 
during this stage of their career; and ten 
years hence we shall have as many officials 
as we require, and who may be compared 
to the most distinguished of Indian civilians. 

4. — Having made provision for justice and 
administration, the next requisite is security : 
both within and without. 

On our Chinese frontier, a few forts might 
be placed at points of strategical importance, 
and a few battalions might be posted judi- 
ciously : above all, our transactions and rela- 
tions should be good. Let us concern our- 


selves less with Pekin, and more with the 
provinces bordering on our possessions. 
We know so little of the mandarins, and 
indeed misjudge them. A little respect — 
which many of them deserve — would con- 
ciliate them. Opportune gifts, proportioned 
to their rank, presented to the Viceroys of 
the two Quangs and Yunnan, the Governors 
and the "Taotai'' would have a decisive 
effect. They would keep an eye on their 
frontiers, and would, so to say, filter the 
emigrants. If, in addition to this, we made 
an alteration in the poll-tax, which in its 
present form humiliates them, we should 
have, I do not say all at once, but in four 
or five years' time, the best Chinamen in 
the world. Countries in the Far-East, as 
a rule, get the class of Chinaman they 

As regards Anam, a rational use must be 
made of the political and military resources 
of the country. The protectorate must be 
restored; the king treated with respect, 
which would invest him with a prestige to 
be used in our service ; the people influenced 
through the medium of the Mandarins ; not 
of the Princes or the Chiefs of powerful 
clans who would be incapable of rallying, 
without arriere-pensee^ round an upright and 
economical administration, — but the minor 
Mandarins, humble literati^ whose conduct 


we could control by our agents, and to 
whose influence that of the leading men 
would serve as an equipoise. 

So much for political matters. Military 
matters are capable of an equally easy 
solution. A native militia must be con- 
stituted, and also a civil and military police 
force ; these forces may, without any appre- 
hension, be officered, except in the higher 
ranks, by native chiefs. In addition to the 
militia, two standing armies, — numerically 
small, but quite distinct — would be required ; 
one of French troops; the other of native 
troops which must have strong cadres^ and 
be commanded by Frenchmen. The native 
troops to be precisely similar to the native 
Indian army, that is to say, engaged for 
service in Tongking only, with cadres whose 
whole career would be made there. The 
French troops, still less numerous, to be 
recruited on advantageous terms from among 
hardy, grown-up men, and judiciously posted 
at strategic points in healthy localities. There 
they would be allowed to remain, not inactive, 
but at peace, ever ready for action, but 
rarely made use of, and surrounded with 
comfort, and prestige ; they would be reserved 
for supreme contingencies ; no display would 
be made of them, they would be kept as 
much as possible out of sight, like a mys- 
terious ^^ scarecrow" and, to use an English 


expression, like splendid and terrible " animals 
of war." 

Arrangements such as these will make us 
feared by the natives ; but that is not enough ; 
we must make ourselves known and appre- 
ciated, I do not venture to say, liked. 

5. — As a means to this end, let us add 
to whatever benefits they already derive from 
Eastern civilisation those which our Western 
civilisation affords : education ; equipment ; 

A. — Education^ especially with peoples who 
venerate science, and respect the learned, 
is an admirable means of spreading influence. 
But one must know how to avail one's-self 
of it. The British have scarcely given it a trial 
in Burma. Their experiments in India have 
not been particularly successful, and have 
served to give colour to the opinion, which 
has some notable supporters, that to educate 
the natives is to train up leaders for your 
enemies. This opinion is based upon false 

The British made a mistake in India. True 
to their traditional policy, they proposed to 
rely on a native elite for the government of 
the people. With this object in view, they 
went to great expense in order to provide 
this elite with tuition in the higher branches 
of knowledge, and for a long period neglected 
elementary education. Thanks to this proce- 


dure the prize-men of their universities were 
regarded by their compatriots, who were 
systematically kept in a state of ignorance, 
as demi-gods, and thus acquired a prestige 
which might have become a source of dan- 
ger. To remedy this state of affairs, the 
British are now everywhere introducing ele- 
mentary education. And this already has 
a salutary effect. 

There is the solution! Let us establish 
numerous schools in Tongking, and afford 
the people free access to them. Let the 
education imparted be — another fault to be 
avoided — the complement of the Anamite 
education, and not a rival system. Let it 
not be our aim to deprive the Chinese of 
the means whereby they may keep in touch 
with the Chinese world. Let us not shut 
them out from this world, in inducting them 
into ours. Let us not even offer them a 
choice between the two systems ; let us give 
them both in conjunction. 

B. — Equipment \ an equipment of the most 
improved type, which shall justify our inter- 
vention, — that is, in fact, what these virtuosi 
and men of action require. A material, as 
well as an intellectual outfit. They are quite 
capable of availing themselves of it : just look 
at the success of our messageries niaritimes^ 
and messageries fluvialesl Well-managed ports, 
well-planned and well-maintained canals, roads. 


and railways, a good postal and telegraph 
service, — these are the best agents of rule, 
the best means of enrichment. 

C. — The prosperity of every young colony, 
and especially of this one, which is a com- 
mercial route, depends on commerce. Let 
us afford to commerce a maximum of free- 
dom. We have introduced our general tariff 
into Indo-China and while no one benefits 
therefrom, the natives and colonists are great 
losers thereby : let us abolish it — not surrep- 
titiously, but openly, publicly, solemnly. Let 
us proclaim its abolition to all the world. 
Let the world, our adversaries, who use it 
as a weapon against us, be unable either to 
ignore its abolition, or to let it be ignored. 
Let the colonists, the natives, the Chinese 
know that for the future trade is free, and 
that, at length, a fortune may be made in 
French Indo-China. 

6. — And let us people this Indo-China 
with good colonists, men of enterprise and 
discretion. Let us invite thither the China- 
man, and the Frenchman ; not the poor, but 
the rich, the capitalist : they will employ the 
others later on. Let us invite, let us attract 
them. Let us offer them advantages, privi- 
leges, monopolies. This is my prayer, the 
prayer of an economist and a liberal. Let 
us create at Tongking privileged Compa- 
nies ; not one only, but several ; not a single 



great Company, but small and medium-sized 
Companies which will compete with one 
another. We have tracts of land in the 
east, the north and the north-west which 
under the existing regime^ will remain wastes 
for a century to come : let us people them. 
French capitalists, Chinese foremen, native 
labourers : there you have a triple alliance 
which will bear abundant fruit. 

And when we have accomplished all this, 
and have pursued this policy (which is surely 
a very simple one) for the space of ten 
years without allowing ourselves to be dis- 
heartened by any rebuffs, we shall no longer 
require to take a lesson from anybody. 

For, I confess that when I compare what 
the British, backed by the infinite resources 
of India, have accomplished in Burmah with 
the results which we Frenchmen with our 
wretched means have attained in Tongking, 
I cannot refrain from admiring our capacity 
for colonisation. 

In point of courage, devotion, ingenuity, 
heartiness, or even pertinacity and industry 
we need envy no one. There is one thing 
in which we are defective : though pre-emi- 
nently disposed to economy, we are wanting 
in foresight. This the British possess in a 
superlative degree. For half a century their 
motto has been "get ready,*' while ours has 
been, and still is '*get clear.** Sometimes 


we succeed in doing so; at others, we be- 
come more deeply involved. And when at 
length our plight is desperate, we appeal to 
some more talented person, and entreat him 
to get us out of our dilemma. With good 
laws judiciously enforced, ordinary well- 
trained officials would have sufficed for the 
task : we, however, squander upon it the 
energies of our men of genius. This is a 
wa'steful procedure which no well-ordered 
state can tolerate : let us be thrifty, but 
provident withal. 


E. J. Brill, Printer, Leyden. 






Aberdeen, The Harbour of Hong Kong, 13; Docks built at, 

46, 62. 
Aborigines, viii.; A Factor modifying Colonial Government, xx. 
Acclimatisation of Institutions, The Method of British Legis- 
lative Policy, 206. 
Administrators, Qualities of good, xvii. 
Administrators in French Colonies, Inefficiency of, xvii. 
Annam, Revolt in, 159; French Protectorate should be 

restored in, 383. 
Aristocracy, Nature of Oriental, 200; Part played in India 

by English A, 274; Future Displacement from Indian 

Government of English A., 276. 
Army in India, The British, Opinions on, 266; also v. sub 

Asiatics in British Civil Service, 252. 
Assam, 149. 

Australia, Good Results of Land Legislation in, 308. 
Autonomy, Colonial, The Gain of, xii. ; Principle of Granting 

A. in English Colonies, 96. 


Banking, Eastern, 134, 135, 138; also v. Parsees. 

Banks, Overbuilding in Hong Kong, 64. 

Bernard, SirC, Memorandum on Burmese Railways, 338-41. 

Bhamo, Occupied by the British, 191; Chinese at, 304. 

Boats, Chinese, 9. 

Bonham, Sir (9., Governor of Hong Kong, 40, 108. 

Boivefiy Sir/., Governor of Hong Kong, 109; Plans of, no. 

Bowring^ Sir J., Governor of Hong Kong, 42, 108. 

Budget, Colonial, Establishment Charges in French, x. 

" Buffer State," Burma as a, 195; Qualities of a, 196. 

Bureaucracy in India, 264, 275. 

Burma, Lesson from the colonisation of, xxii. ; Increase of 
since 1885, xxii. ; Wars in, xxii. ; Seized by the British 
in self-defence, xxiii. ; French loss of opportunities in, 
xxiii. ; Works on, xxiv. n., 146; Uncertain knowledge 


of, 145 ; Divisions of, 146 ; Races of, 146^ 148; Geo- 
graphical position of, 147 ; Mountains in, 147-8 ; Ex- 
pansion of, 149; Ingress to, 149; Rivers of, 150; 
Richness of, 150-1, 289; False prestige of, 151; 
English policy in, 151, 187, 188, 191, 194-205, 211-17; 
English expeditions in, 152, 154, 157, 161 ; French 
Agent at, 153 ; Fall of the Kingdom of, 154; Slow 
pacification of, 156; Dacoits in, 157-62; Insurrections 
in, 156-60, 162; Advantages of England in, 163-4; 
An Indian Province, 163 ; Exceptional measures with 
regard to, 167, 212-5 f British forces in, 168-9 ; Police 
in, 170-3 ; Disarmament of, 173 ; Pacification of, 
174-93 ; Organisation of, 176 ; Absence of native aris- 
tocracy in, 179, 200; Arbitrary executions in, 183; 
English injustice in, 183-6; Arrests in, 185; Priestly 
life universal in, 186; Friendliness of Priests to British 
in, 187; Council of State abolished in, 188; British 
policy to vassal tribes of, 188; Wisdom of British 
policy in, 191 ; Suzerainty claimed by China over, 
1 9 1-2 ; Political aims of England in, 194-205 ; 
Reasons for annexation of, 194-204; Protectorate 
abandoned over, 199 ; Poverty of, 201 ; Lack of 
education in, 201 ; Mediocrity of Priests in, 202 ; De- 
sire of order by, 203 ; British legislation in, 206-18 ; 
Typical British system in, 206 ; Cautious legislation in, 
210; Special laws in, 211; Modifications of Indian 
Law in, 212-3; Special Regulations in, 214; Recom- 
mendations of Lord Dufferin for, 214 ; Upper Burma 
I^ws Act, 215; Legislative Divisions of, 215; 
Summary of British regime in, 216-7 l Dangers avoided 
by legal system in, 217 ; Objections to legal system of, 
218 n.; Inferiority of officials in, 277-9; Climate of, 
279-80 ; Unhealthiness of, 279-81 ; Sanitaria in, 280; 
Unpopularity of Service in, 281 ; Extent of districts a 
weakness in, 281-2 ; Officials recruited separately for, 
283 ; Insufficient officials in, 284 ; Surplus of revenue 
from, 285 n. i ; Resources of, 288 et seq, ; Agriculture 
of, 289, 301 ; Special products of Upper, 290; Pro- 
spects of Upper, 290; Forests of, 291-2; Neglect of 
forests by natives in, 292 ; Minerals in, 292-8 ; Petro- 
leum in, 294-5 ; Coal in, 296-7 ; Gems in, 297 ; Land- 
legislation in, 308-12; Government proprietorship of, 


310-11 ; Commerce in, 313, 373-5 ; Public works in, 
326-44; Budget of, 328; Roads in, 329-30; Rivers 
in, 331-5 ; Floods in, 331 ; Railways in, 335-44, 35^ ; 
Famines in, 339 n. ; Intermediate between China and 
India, 345 ; A gate to China, 350 ; Surveys in, 351-2 ; 
Robbers in, 363 ; Finance of, 367 et seq. ; Revenue 
returns from, 374 ; Results of British occupation of, 

Burmese, The, 299-303; Idteness of, 299; Industries 

among, 301; Absence of Commerce among, 302; 

Regal Monc^lies among, 302 ; Indifference to death 

of, 183. 
Business Depressions, Periodicity of, 63; at Hong Kong, 64. 


California, Isolation from Atlantic States of, 56; Chinese 

Immigration to, v. Coolies. 
Canton, Former Pre-eminence of, 18: Opened to Europe, 

.23-4, 40, 45 » 60. 

Capital in the East, v. Burma, Hong Kong, &c.; Companies, 

Caste in India, 25-8. 

China, Text of Treaty between European Powers and, 23 n.; 
Trade with Europe (1849), 25 n. i ; Growth of diplomatic 
relations with, 26, 37; Claim over Shan States of, 
189; Claims to suzerainty of Burma by, 191; Pene- 
tration of Europe into, 345-66; Unity of Europe 
in face of, 347; Hostility to Europe on the part 
of, 348; European policy (since i860) towards, 349-50; 
Trade through Tongking with, 350; Trade through 
Burma with, 352-3; Railways in, 353, 356; Opposition 
of officials to railways in, 354-5 ; Railways to frontier 
of, 357-66; Relations with Russia, 349. 

Chinese, The, Lack of patriotism among, 55; Ability to 
endure expatriation of, 56, 68; English victories over, 
55, 60; English merchants find rivals in, 68, 84, 123, 
303; Bad qualities of, 69-71, 83; Employment in 
Hong Kong Police of, 72; Respect for force on the 
part of, 76; Hong Kong classes of, 76, 82; Slavery in 
Hong Kong among, 83; Promiscuous living of, 83; 
Adoption of Western customs by, 84; Wealth of, 84-5; 


Interdependence of British and, 87; In Burma, 303; 
Inamenability to law of, 304; English policy in Burma 
towards, 305; Foreign intermarriage with, 306. 

Chusan, Strategic and Commercial Importance of, 17. 

Civil Service, v. Colonial Government, Examination, Officials, 
Commissioners; Burma, India, &c. 

Classical Education, A Training in the Scientific Spirit, 235. 

Colonial History, Lack of study of, 35. 

Colonies, Colony, Phases of Existence of, 53 ; A Long-dated 
investment, 120, 316; Interests of the Mother-Country 
identical with those of C, viii.; Strength of C. if inde- 
pendent, xii.; When containing European minority must 
be administered by the Mother-Country, 97 ; Bound to 
contribute to their cost of maintenance, 121; Danger of 
premature withdrawal by Mother-Country from, 121; 
Inevitable contest with the Mother-Country on the part 
of, 314-6; " Protection " in, 318. 

Colonies, English, Classes of, 96; Taxation of, 122 et seq,; 
Weak finance of, 123. 

Colonies, French, Weakness of, xi., xvii.; In xviii. century, 
xviii.; Modern restoration of, xviii.; Modelled on the 
Home Country, 209; Are now Possessions, 210 n. 

Colonisation, False Theories of, ix., 317-20; Right Theory 
of, 320; Aim of, xiii., r2i; Rules of, 12 1-2; Ideal of, 
xvii.; Comparative Study of, xix/, xx. ; Qualities neces- 
sary in successful, xxi. ; Principle of English, 96, 98-100; 
Recognised value to India of English, 257; Refutation 
of slanders against English, 257. 

Colonists, Definition of, vii , xvi., 97 ; Methods of attracting, 
80 et seg,] Not permanent in the East, 88, 141. 

Colquhoun^ Mr, Archibald^ Service in Burmah of, 190, 254, 

Commissioners, Indian Civil Service, 230, 239, 241. 

Commissariat, Mismanagement in Burma of the, 163. 
Companies, Eastern Joint Stock, 135-8. 
Company, The East Indian, Regime of, 273-5, 
" Competition Wallahs," 246, 273. 

Coolies, Business in transportation of, 43, 49, 55-8; Neces- 
sity in Hong Kong of, 68. 
Cotton Supply, Effects of the American War on the, 48, 63, 65. 
"Cramming," 271. 
Crown Colonies, 96. 


Customs-Dues, Organisation in China of, 46; Ease of 
obtaining revenue by, 315; Pressure on a new colony 
of, 316. 


Dacoits, 157-62, 183-5. 

DaviSy Mr., Governor of Hong Kong, 38. 

Derby y Lord^ quoted on Hong Kong, 20, no. 

DilkCy Sir C, quoted on Dacoity, 160; Writings of, 177. 

Duffeririy Lord^ quoted on police duties, 171; On the 
occupation of Bhamo, 191; On policy towards Burnia, 
i95~7^ On annexation of Burma, 204, 214; On the 
worth of I.C.S. officials, 261; References to, 164-7, 185, 
198, 203, 327, 342. 


Eastern Cadets, 100, 102. 

Education, A Liberal, The best preparation for professional 
life, 236. 

Egypt, Irrigation Works in, 267. 

Egyptian Complaints against English Officials, 266-7. 

Ellioty Capt. CharleSy First Governor of Hong Kong, 36. 

Embankments in Burma, 328, 332. 

Engineers, French, High Standing of, 224. 

England, The First Colonial Power, xx.; Good points in 
Colonial Policy of, xx. ; The Rival of France in Cents. 
18 and 19, xxiii.; Tenacity in purpose of, 33, 115-6, 
119; Humanity of, 58, 79, 207; Regard for law on the 
part of, 77, 171; Impartiality of, 78, 180; Eastern 
success of, 81; Eastern hygienic work of, 91-2, 94; 
Colonial Policy of, v, sub nn., of Colonies; Colonial 
principles of, 96; Choice of officials by, 98; Weak 
Colonial finance of, 123; Pacific measures of, 174-93; 
Belief in justice by, 179; Cautious Colonial legislation 
of, 210. 

Europeans in the East, Drawbacks to employment of, 71; 
Unable to live permanently there, 88, 105 ; Preponde- 
rance of in I.C.S., 252. 

Examination, Competitive, Necessary for selection of Colonial 
officials, 98 ; Nature of for Hong Kong, loo-i ; Advan- 
tages of, 220; Adopted by France only for Home 
officials, 221-2; Necessary severity of in I.C.S., 
229; Inadequacy of solely, 230; Nature of for I.C.S., 


231-44 ; Origin of the system of, 233 ; Correspondence 
of French E. with E. in I.C.S., 237-8; Importance 
attached to viva voce in, 245-6 ; Choice of Province 
after, 282-3. 
Examiners I.C.S., 230-1 ; Control over candidates by^ 



Finance, Colonial ; Problems of, 120 et seq, \ Eastern v, sub 
nn. of Colonies, esp. 367. 

Fouillke^ M., Quoted on classical education, 235. 

France; Colonial policy of, xviii., 209; Capacity for 
colonisation of, 388 ; Break of continuity in the history 
of, xviii. 

" Free Trade," The secret of England's Colonial success, 

French Colonial System; Absence of Competitive Exami- 
nations from, 224 ; Compared with I.C.S., 238 ; 
Salaries given by England compared with those under, 
248 n., 253; Protective Tariffs under, 318, 321, also 
V. Government, Colonial. 


Gold, Effect on Hong Kong of the discovery of, 55. 

Government, Colonial ; Empiricism in, vii. ; Requisites of 
good, xvi., xvii. ; Factors in, xx. ; Theory of, vi.-ix. 

Government, British Colonial, 96-124, and sub nn. of 
Colonies; Results of, 125-142, 376; Salaries under, 
100, 103-4; Officials under, 95-110; Interference of 
Home Government with, 1 1 1 ; Moderation in Burma 
of, 178; Impartiality, 180; Wisdom in Burma of, 
191-3, 253 ; Seeks good Criminal even more than good 
Civil Laws, 207; Elastic in legislation, 212-3; High 
qualities of officials under, 218, 228-9; Especially 
effective in India, 219 et seq,\ Adopts Competitive 
Exam, for entrance, 232 et seq.\ In covenant with its 
servants, 249; Moral prestige in India of, 258-9, 312; 
Changing in India, 274-6; Economy in India of, 285; 
Its Policy in Burma, 307 ; Failure of Land-legislation 
in Burma by, 309-12; Slow evolution of system in India 
by, 336; Burmese, Financial difficulties of, 367 et seq,-. 
Methodical, 378. 


Government, French Colonial; Routine in, vii. ; Establish- 
ment Charges in, ix.; Modelled on Home Govt., 
viL, ix., X.; v, also French system. 

Governor, Colonial; Necessary security and pre-eminence of 
the, 99; Powers of the English, 105, 177-8; Position 
between the Colony and the Mother-country, 122, 

Governments, False theories on the part of, 1 1 2-3. 

Grey^ Lordy quoted on Hong Kong, 32. 

Grosvenor Mission, The, 358-9. 


Halletty Mr., Burmese Surveys of. 360-2. 

Hastings^ Warren, Modem Vindication of, 257. 

History as a Subject in I.C.S. Examinations, 241. 

Hong Kong, Lesson from the colonisation of, xxi. ; Descrip- 
tion of, 1-14; Terms of cession to England of, 2; Early 
defects of, 3; Advantages in position of, 15, 62; Early 
conflicting views about, 16; Reasons for British occupy- 
ing, 20; Early Prosperity of, 20, 54; Decline of, 25, 54; 
Unhealthiness of, 26-9; Soil of, 29; Proposed Abandon- 
ment of, 32, 54; Early Annals of, 36-50; Wages in, 39; 
Chinese residents recalled from, 44; Postage Stamps 
first issued by, 47; Taxation of, 48, 64; Mint built at, 
48 ; Development of, 52-66 ; General advantages of, 62 ; 
Trade depressions at, 64-5; Suez Canal helped trade 
with, 65 ; Importance of native cooperation to, 67 ; 
Difficulties of British in, 70; Justice in, 71; Boat- 
dwellers in, 72; Legislation in, 78-9, 84; Education in, 
79-8r; Variation in population of 81, 89; Proposed 
Chinese Consulate at, 82; Slavery in, 83; Class of 
Colonists needed for, 87; Problem of Colonising, 90; 
Public Works in, 90-2 ; Death-rate at, 93 ; Competitive 
Exam, for, 100; Salaries at, 103-4; Powers of Governor 
. of, 105; Duties of Councils at, 105-10; Change in 
Government of, 108-10; Problems in Government of, 
114; Trade at, 114-20, 13c; Harbourage at, 116; 
Credit at, 119, 135; Chinese cooperation with Governor 
of, 118; Financial problems at, 120 et seq,\ Civil and 
Military expenditure on, 125 et seq.\ Debt of, 126; 
Increase of expense of, 128; Taxes of, 129-30; A Port 
of distribution, 13 1-4; Causes of prosperity of, 132-5; 


Business of, 133-4; Nature of Banking at, 134-5; 

Joint-Stock Companies at, 135-8; Banks of, 138; Life 

of colonist at, 139-40; Hospitality at, 140-1. 
Horsemanship, I.C.S. Candidates tested in, 233. 
de Hubner^ County Opinion on English rule in India, 258, 

Hyderabad, 258. 
Hygienic Work in the East, 91-2. 

I. J. 

India, Lesson from the Government of, xxii. ; High character 
of laws of, 207; Books on, 207; Penal Code of, 208; 
Code of Civil Procedure in, 209; Code of Criminal 
Procedure in, 209; Importance to England of, 228; 
Complexity of, 228, 258; Need of high-class men to 
govern, 229; Not a nation, 258; Condition of before 
British rule, 258; Native appreciation of England in, 
258; Debt of, 286 n.; Free Trade in, 324; Autonomy 
of, 368-372; Causes of greatness of, 371; Elementary 
Education in, 386. 

Indians, Qualities of as Officials, 71; Official employment 
of, 252, and V, Natives. 

Indian Civil Service, Original Scheme of admission to, 270; 
Change in Scheme, 270-1; Evil results of change in 
Scheme, 271; The Covenanted, 251; The Uncove- 
nanted, 251-2; also see Examination , India, Officials, &c. 

Indo-China, England and France in, xxiiL, xxiv.; Contrasted 
systems of the two Nations in, 209, 225. 

Irrawaddy, The, Difficulties in navigating, 333-4* 

Irrigation in Burma, 327. 

Jacobinism in National Policy, 77. 


Katchinese, 148; Robberies by, 363; Government agree- 
ment with, 364. 

Kowloon, Importance to Hong Kong of, 3; Occupied by 
British, 46; Negotiations for disposal of, 61. 


Ladrones, The, 7 ; Adapted to piracy, 73. 


Legislation in British Colonies ; Excellence of, 207 ; Seeks 
good criminal laws rather than civil, 207 ; Limits judge 
in criminal cases, 208; Power of selection from, 212-3. 

Legislation in French Colonies, Defects of, xvii. 

Lower Burma, History of, 7;. Burma; Courts Act in (1889), 
211 ; Legislation of, 211, 218 n. 

Lytton^ Lord, Opinion on I.C.S., 260; Abolished Indian 
Import Dues, 324. 


Macao, Antiquity of, i; Depot of opium smuggling, 22; 
Healthiness of, 30 ; Piracy at, 41 ; Centre of coolie- 
traffic, 58 ; Distress at, 60. 

Macaulay, Lord, Work on Indian Penal Code, 209 ; Work 
on I.C.S. Commission, 233 et seq, 

Maine, Sir H,, Opinion on Indian Laws, 207. 

Mandarins, Oppose Railways in China, 354-5. 

Manufacturers in relation to Colonies, 317-19. 

Mercer, Mr,, Governor of Hong Kong, 62. 

Mill, James, Error of, in Indian History, 257 n. 

Mill, y. S., Opposed to y. Mill on Indian questions, 
257 n. ; Opinion on Indian Government, 257. 


Namoa, Capture by pirates of the ship, 75. 

Nankin, Treaty of, 37. 

Natives of India, Racial diversity of, 258 ; Mutual hatred of 

classes among, 258; Opposition to British by, 259; In 

the army, 266. 


Officials, British Colonial, Choice of, 98; Principles of 
selection of, 98-100, 228 et seq, \ Qualifications of, 
100-2 ; Remuneration of, 103-4, 248 . n., 262 ; 
Powers of, 105-10 ; Prizes of, 104, 229, 248-9 ; 
Good and bad Qualities of, iio-ii, 178, 180, 245; 
Cooperation of Civil and Military, 176 ; Variance 
between, 177 n. ; High Level of, 218, 229, 260, 262; 
Recruitment of, 219-55, 269, 272-3 ; Necessity of 
high education for, 236 ; " Ineffective " period of 
service of, 246 ; Summary of requirements of, 247 


The Covenanted, 251; The Uncovenanted, 251-2; 

Military officers taking the duty of, 252 ; Value of, 256 

et seq.'y Opinions on, 259 et seq,\ Devotion of, 264; 

In Egypt, High qualities of, 267 ; Promotion of, 268 ; 

Two types of, 272; Change of personnel in, 274-6; 

In Burma, Inferiority of, 278 et seq,\ Overworked 

generally, 286 n.; Choice of province by, 282-3. 
Officials, French Colonial, Not obtained by Examination, 

222; Appointed by interest, 225. 
Officialism in French Colonies, vii., x., xii., xvii. 
Opium, Smuggling of, 22; Trade at Hong Kong, 38, 64; 

Tax on, 42; War, 73; Grown in Upper Burma, 290. 
Opposition to British in India, Native, 259. 


Pacification, Process of, 175; Requirements for, 178; 

Railways a means of, 337. 
Parliament, British, Colonial Legislation by the, 106. 
Parsees in Eastern Banking, 22, 64, 303. 
Pascal quoted, xix. 
Pekin, Treaty of, 2. 
Penal Code, French, ix.. 
Penal Code, Indian, 208, 

Peninsula and Oriental S.S. Co., Early traffic to East, 39. 
Persecution of Christians in China, Reasons for the, 355. 
Petroleum in Burma, 293-5; Decreasing yield, 295. 
Pirates in Eastern Waters, 3, 7, 158; Numerous in Hong 

Kong, 39-41, 43-6, 45, 72-5; Expeditions against, 45, 

74; Combined national eifort necessary to extirpate, 75. 
Plains, Characteristics of dwellers in, 149. 
Policy, English Colonial, Good points in, xx.; also v. 

Government, England, France, &c. 
Policy, French Colonial, Lacks spirit of continuity, xviii.; 

Good qualities of, xviii.; Debt of Modem to Old, xviii. 
Policy, Colonial, Universal errors in, xx. 
Political Economy, xiv. 
Prefect, French, How appointed, 223. 
Frendergast, Gen.^ Service in the East of, 154, 166, 184. 
Presents from Native Rulers, System of, 249. 
Princes of India, Feudatory, 258. 
Probationers for I.C.S., 232, 


Professors, French, 224. 

Promotion by Merit, Supplementary to Competitive Exam- 
ination, 98. 

" Protection," 318; Weakness of, 319-20. 

Protectorate, Nature of a, 1 99. 

Public Works, Neglect by France of, x.; Slow development 
in India of, 336; In Burma, 325-44. 


Railways, in Burma, 328, 335-44; in China, 353-6; to 
Chinese Frontier, 356-66; in Siam, 362. 

" Residents," French, 219, 253. 

Rice, P^xport from Lower Burma of, 289. 

Rivers, Importance in Burma of, 330-5. 

Roads, Value in Burma of, 329; Neglected in Lower 
Burma, 329. 

Roberts^ Gen. Lord, Service of, 166-8; quoted, 169, 171, 
[76, 187. 

Robinson^ Sir H, In Hong Kong, 46. 

Rupee, Depreciation of the, 286 n. 

Russia, Diminishing influence with China, 349. 


Salaries in I.C.S. v. Officials, &c. 

Salisbury^ Lord^ Sec. of State for India, 270 ; Despatch on 

Abolition of Indian Import Duty on Cotton, 323. 
Scheduled Districts Act (1874), 212 ; Powers of Local 

Governments under, 213. 
Secret Societies, Chinese, 40, 70. 

Secretary of State for the Colonies, Powers of the, 96, 106. 
Shans v, Burma, Siam. 
Shan States, Act, 190; Exempted from Stat. Vic. 33, 214; 

Coal in, 297 ; Claims of China and Siam over, 189. 
Siam, Claims Shan States, 189; Railways in, 362. 
Silver, Abundant in Burma, 293 ; Depreciation of, v. Rupee. 
Slavery, Chinese, 83. 
Soldier in the East, The, 93, 165, 168, 171, 176, 265-6, 



States, The Native, in India, Compared with British rule, 

Stat Victoria J J c, J, §7, Local Governments under, 213. 
Strachey, Sir/.^ Authority on India, 207, 218; Opinion of 

British rule in Indi^, 260; Report on Indian Import 

Duties, 324. 
Suez Canal, Effect on Eastern Exchange of the, 65. 


Taipings, The, 59. 

Tariff, In India, 322. 

Taxation of Colonies, Method of, 122-3; Necessity of 
Moderation in, 372. 

Temple, Sir R., Opinion on I.C. Servants, 260. 

Theebaw^ King, Deposed, 154; Banished, 199; Popularity 
of, 198 ; Cruelties of, 200. 

Tientsin, Treaty of, 61 ; Second Treaty of, 62. 

Tongking, Compared with Burma, 169, 203; Employment 
of military officers in, 253; Rivalry for posts in, 285; 
Possible future of, 290; "Protection" in, 318; Insuf- 
ficient Supplies in, 328; River engineering in, 333; 
Reason for occupying, 350; Red River of, 350; Finan- 
cial difficulties in, 367; Railways in, 368; Procedure 
in, 369-70; Less advanced than Burma, 378; Sugges- 
tions for Government of, 379-89; Variety of races in, 
380; Inadequacy of French Codes for, 381; Need of 
good officials in, 382; Security in, 383; Troops in, 384; 
Education in, 385-6; Free Trade in, 387; Encourage- 
ments to Capital in, 387-8. 

U. Y. 

United States, The, England's greatest Colony, xiii. ; Export 

of petroleum to Burma from, 294. 
Universities, The English, I.C.S. candidates drawn from, 

234, 271. 
Upper Burma v, Burma. 
Upper Burma, Xaws Act, 215. 
Viceroy, Powers of, in India, 178. 
Viva-voce, Opinion of I.C.S. Commissioners on the value in 

examination of, 245-6. 


• V.'' 




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